By Moe Lastfogel
Director of Sales and Marketing for The Retail Observer
I was researching articles on networking for this month’s Musings and came across this piece by Angela Hill, president & creative director of Incitrio, a sustainably-minded branding agency located in San Diego, CA. Angela put together the great tips below that summed the topic up easily.
“Successful networking is basically the same thing as personal branding, and at the end of the day, it’s all about developing a good strategy. Think of your networking strategy in terms of a two-pronged approach: 1) Events where your target audience or circle of influencers are most likely to be and, 2) Events that match your personal interests.
BusinessNetworking—For the business networking events, make sure to pick a time of day when you’re at your peak. For example, if you are a morning person, only go to breakfast events. If you are a night owl, go to evening socials and dinners. By choosing a time of day when you are at your best, you’re guaranteed to reduce the nervousness factor and make it easier for yourself to meet new contacts.
Networking is like Dating—People buy from people they like, know and trust. Great sales, and therefore networking, is all about building long-term relationships. So, if you think about networking like dating, the rules are fairly straightforward: be a good listener, make eye contact, don’t act desperate, don’t have a triple espresso before you show up, shower, dress nice and smile.
Control the Conversation— Another tip is to strategically control the conversation. People love to talk about themselves and the more they talk, the more they feel good about you. So, start the conversation by asking them questions about themselves and be genuinely interested. Find ways to connect what they’re saying to what you do or how you can help them. Eventually, they’ll get tired of talking about themselves and ask what you do. That’s your golden opportunity to modify your elevator pitch and integrate key points that came up earlier into what you say.It shows you’re actively listening, and you can customize/integrate what you do into a problem they’re trying to solve or a value-added benefit to their client list.
Convert Prospects Faster—Finally, be sure to followup! Send an email or a personal note after an event, ideally the next day. Connect with them via LinkedIn while you’re still on top of their mind. If it’s a really good potential contact, suggest a virtual coffee or lunch meeting in 2-3 weeks so that it’s non-threatening but keeps the momentum going. The more you do, the closer you get to the close of the sale.”
Happy and Safe Retailing,