If there is one subject guaranteed to get the business development discussion juices flowing, then that is networking. Given that much of a typical firm’s promotional focus can be devoted to this activity, we are not surprised. Unfortunately, it remains a source of frustration to many. If only they could do it better, then we might gain more new clients. If only the professionals wouldn’t see it as a peripheral activity not worthy of much effort. If only, we could even get them all to turn up on time! Here are three simple questions to ask/things to remember that can help develop your excellence.
Why am I here? An existential question related to networking. Sadly, many professionals we come across never feel any of its angst – and that’s the problem. If they did, they might think harder about the time they waste at expensively-staged seminars catching up on office gossip or just looking vacant or lost. Good networkers know why they are there (nine times out of 10 to make contact with prospective clients or contacts) and act upon it; good networking firms drum this into their professionals, train them, and give them measurable aims to achieve.
Do they know about us? One of the biggest barriers to excellence in a room full of people you don’t know is your knowledge – or rather the lack of it – about your own organisation! As firms get more and more specialised, so diminishes the ability of their people to talk (and show an interest in things) outside of their own specialist box. So choose two types for your front-line networking teams: those with a broad enough knowledge of what you do to talk credibly (without being an in-depth expert), and/or those with enough knowledge of “the man or woman who can” to allow them easily to refer a prospect.
Trust me, I’m an…..accountant, lawyer, surveyor, consultant, attorney, engineer whatever. And we wonder why no-one finds us interesting! The best networkers that we have met put real thought into how they are going to make a vital first impression, before they get in the room. They make what they do sound interesting, even intriguing, because they know that they have only a few seconds in which to make an impact.
James Newberry is a coach and trainer who helps professionals do more business. Have a look at http://www.peoplescope.com to know more.