Do you find networking difficult or stressful? If so, you’re not alone. Many business owners barely tolerate or even actively dislike networking because they find it challenging. And generally, they’re also fed up with their lack of results.
Picture yourself at a typical networking meeting…
Have you ever felt like you’re being sold to – as if everyone is pitching to you? Perhaps you’ve had someone zero in on you as if you had a giant target bull’s eye painted on your chest. I bet you have. And how did that make you feel? You wanted to run in the other direction, didn’t you?
Now consider this… If your idea of networking is pitching your service or product to as many people as you can, you’re taking the ‘hunter’ stance. Trying to find clients while networking turning people off and it’s not likely to help you with making sales.
The good news is there is a better way. There’s no need to turn your networking into a “pitch fest” or to make people uncomfortable with your unsolicited sales approach. Instead of viewing your prospects as prey (something to hunt), why not view them as interesting people to meet? Once you focus less on the sale and more on getting to know people, you’ll feel less pressure, and the experience will be much more pleasant.
But what about the sale, you may wonder. Well… we’ll get to that in a little bit.
First, let’s look at some ways to reduce the pressure even more:
1. Not just at networking events
You don’t HAVE to limit your people meeting activities to just formal networking events. Instead, be open to meeting people anywhere and anytime. Once you stop feeling pressured to meet as many people as possible before the hour is up, you’ll be much more likely to actually connect with them and make a positive and lasting impression. After all, you can meet people 24/7 anywhere you go!
2. Stop thinking about making a sale
Yes, I said that! If you feel that you HAVE to make a sale, you’ll naturally feel stressed. In fact, not only does that place a lot of pressure on you, but it’s also pretty much guaranteed to fail. So there you are, trying to make a sale that you know is really likely to fail. No wonder you’re not enjoying yourself. And the less you’re enjoying meeting people, the less successful you are in meeting them.
Ever been in a retail setting where the sales person you’re talking to is constantly scanning the shop looking for better prospects. Doesn’t feel good does it? Well, you don’t want to be that sales person.
3. Stop playing the numbers game
Whether or not you’re making a sale, you’re also probably trying to make the most of a networking event by making contact with as many people as possible. Some people act as if they could win a prize for gathering the most business cards in the shortest amount of time. And maybe they can, but that’s not the prize that’s likely to get you more clients.
Instead, focus on the quality of the connections you make. Focus on building quality relationships with a few select people instead of shaking as many hands as possible.
This is truly the case where less is best – yes, I said that too! It’s taken me years to figure this out. I know it seems counterintuitive, but when you have fewer yet higher quality connections you’ll more easily be able to do a meaningful follow up, be remembered and gain a valuable connection – not just a meaningless business card.
But what about the sale? I’ve found that when you really connect with people and get to know them, they’re much more likely to refer or buy from you than when you push for the sale up front.
After all, people buy from people they know, like, and trust, so once you’ve given them a way to know, like, and trust you, they’ll be more open to buy from you or recommend you when they or someone they know needs the kinds of services you provide.
My best advice is to stop worrying about networking and instead just focus on connecting – it’s more enjoyable and you’ll gain more prospects, referrals and yes… clients!