Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Value Added Advice!

Offering Value Added Advice
A Little Taste of the Success to Come Later

It’s no secret that we all want to do business with people whom we know and trust. So, how do we build rapport and create trust with new contacts at networking events? One way is by offering value-added advice–solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for another person – without a sales pitch. It can actually endear them to you.

Let’s say you’re a real estate agent talking with someone at a networking event who isn’t ready to buy a home today, but is heading in that direction. You could say something like: “Well, I know you’re not interested in buying a home right now. But, when you’re ready to start looking, I highly recommend checking out the north part of town. A lot of my clients are seeing their homes appreciate in the 10 to 20 percent range, and from what I understand, the city is thinking about building another middle school in that area.”

By doing that you’ve just made an ally without being too salesy, and an ally can become a client in the future quicker than a cold call can. A statement like this demonstrates your expertise, so he or she will remember you when ready to move. This model works for consultants, CPAs, accountants, financial planners, coaches–just about anyone in a service-based industry in which knowledge is the main product. If you’re concerned about giving away your intellectual capital for free, look at it this way: few people are going to sign up to do business with you if they’re not sure you can do the job. In the absence of a tangible product, you have nothing but your technical expertise to demonstrate that you have the goods.

Give potential clients a little test drive - A Little Taste od the Success to Come Later" to show how it would feel to do business with you. But don’t go overboard! Just give them something they can try on to see if it works. Not only will this open up a good conversation with new contacts while you’re out networking, if you play your cards right, whom do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service?

Good Luck,

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Direct Selling Versus Networking

Direct Selling Versus Networking
How many of you have attended a networking event hoping to do some business or maybe even make a sale? How many of you have attended a networking event hoping to buy something?

This is called networking disconnect. It is ironic that people are so “disconnected” about a process that’s intended to be about connecting people. This kind of disconnect leads to poor results, which in turn leads people to believe that networking doesn’t work.

Do not confuse direct selling with networking. But someone will say, “Franklin, I’ve made a sale before by attending a networking event." I’m not saying it doesn’t ever happen, but it occurs about as often as a solar eclipse, and you’re wrong if you think the odds are in your favor to “sell” at a networking event.

So why go to a networking meeting? It’s more about farming than hunting. Sometimes you go to increase your visibility and to connect with people you have never met. Sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know. In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the relationship process and not just about closing deals. Visibility leads to credibility, which, with time and effort, leads to profitability.

Here are five things to remember when attending networking events:

1) Don’t go there to sell, go there to connect.
2) Have meaningful conversations with people you meet.
3) Follow up with people you found interesting or who you can help in some way. Don’t follow up to sell them something.
4) Meet these people in a one-to-one setting, learn more about them, and ask them “How can I help you?”
5) Go for the long-term relationship, not the short sale.

Good luck!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Building Good Referral Sources

To be an effective net worker, you should constantly be strengthening your relationships with referral sources. The best way to go about this depends on each individual referral source and to what s/he responds. So while there isn’t one “best” way to solidify your connections with referral sources, you can take a number of actions to build good will and credibility in those relationships. Here, are ten examples that should give you some ideas and get you off on the right foot.
1) Arrange a one-to-one meeting. Meeting a referral source in person is an excellent opportunity to learn more about his or her business and interests. Prepare questions in advance so that the conversation flows smoothly. Be ready to give an update on your business and to ask lots of questions about your source’s interests.

2) Send a thank-you card. A handwritten thank-you card makes a great impression, especially in this age of electronic communication. If you’d rather send something online, SendOutCards.com is a useful resource.

3) Send a gift. Like a thank-you card, a gift, however small or inexpensive, can help build visibility and credibility with your referral source. Try to find out what his or her likes are, such as favorite foods, hobbies, etc., and send a gift that is personalized.

4) Call a referral source. An occasional, casual phone call is a good way to keep the relationship strong. It’s also a good idea to have a piece of news or some tidbit of information to pass along that will benefit or interest your referral source.

5) Display a source’s brochure. Doing a bit of sales work on behalf of a referral source can only enhance your relationship. If you have a public area for your business or are doing a trade show, offer to place your source’s materials where your clients can read them.

6) Extend an invitation. Invite a referral source to a networking event. Introducing him or her to other businesspeople you know gives your source an opportunity to meet others in your target market. It may also provide new business opportunities for you both.

7) Nominate them for an award. Watch for these types of opportunities in publications like Crain’s and CORP Magazine, local service and civic organizations. Find out what groups and interests in which your referral source is involved and check to see if there is a form of recognition associated with them.

8) Include a source in your newsletter. Even a brief mention of a referral source in your newsletter can pay dividends down the road, including the opportunity for them to reciprocate the favor in their own newsletter.

9) Arrange a speaking engagement. Help your referral source get in front of a group that would be interested in his or her area of expertise. Local chapters of service organizations, such as Rotary and Kiwanis, are always looking for good speakers.
10) Turn the table. Offer your referral source a referral s/he might find useful. It’s often a wonderful way to build your relationship. By helping to build your source’s business, you help create a debt of gratitude that will encourage your source to respond in kind.