Networking Part II- How to Conduct a Networking Meeting

The next step in the networking process would be to generate a sit down or one on one meeting.  This could be done after meeting someone at a general networking event where you hit it off.  You both could work with people who would potentially use each other’s services and quite simply if you had a good vibe with that person and there is a potential you could help one another out.

You would call that person up that very next day and see if they would be open to a quick cup of coffee, no more than 45 minutes, to expand on your conversation to see if there is a way to help each other’s businesses grow.

The Meeting

There are two main things you are looking to accomplish from that meeting…

1. See if that person is a potential client

A. Could what you have save that person, time, energy, and money?

2. If they are not a client, can that person become a strategic partner?

A. Do you each know of others who could buy that person’s product or service and would you be willing to refer them back and forth?

So obviously it would be great if that person is a buyer for your service but if they are not, you will want to see if they may do business with others that could potentially be.

Now that we laid out our goals let’s talk about how we accomplish them.

You must have a set plan when you have a networking appointment so you don’t go off track, waste time, and you accomplish everything that you need to in the shortest amount of time possible.

It is important to know that people will do business with you because they know, like, and trust you. That is your main goal.  You must build some rapport with that individual and I do that early on.  With all the Facebooks, Twitters, LinkedIn’s, and so on you can get a ton of information on that person you are meeting with before the meeting.  I take a few minutes and dig up some important facts about that person’s business to bring up in that first conversation.

Someone used this tactic on me just the other day said “Casey, I was on your website yesterday and saw at the age of 22 you bought your first investment property, that is really impressive to do at such a young age, tell me more about how you did it?”

What that person did is stroke my ego and then got me to do all the talking. Whenever you are in any sort of meeting it is best to get that other person to do the majority of the talking.  That way you can learn more about how you could develop a mutually beneficial relationship with that person.

Now after stroking their ego and building some rapport I always like to set an agenda.  I may say something like this.

“Now Bob, we have about 30 minutes left here and in order to make the best use of our time would it be alright if you spoke for 10 minutes or so on your business and what you specifically do, and then I can share as well?  Then that should give us a good idea by the end of the meeting if there is some synergy here and if any light bulbs go off.  We can then figure out the best way to move forward at the end of the meeting, does that sound like a good plan?”

So you continue and let them share all about their business and then you can frame your discussion around what you learned in that initial ten minutes!  Remember to let them do the talking and let them talk first!

End of the conversation

Your goal is to see if that person could be a potential client and since they did all the talking you would have a pretty good idea.  When they were speaking you were looking for pains that your product or service could help them with.  If they are someone who could be a potential client you will not want to mention that directly at that meeting because this is a networking not a sales meeting.  You may want to schedule that later on.  There are some unique tricks on how to make that work so shoot me an email or give me a call and I can show you how I do it.

At the end of the conversation you are really looking for some light bulbs to go off guiding you down the path to doing business with one another.

It is your goal to see if you can become strategic partners where you can refer business back and forth to one another at that time.  You may need to help them out a bit and that is what I call “coaching them to a lead”

I would say something like, “Bob, I am looking for some really sharp entrepreneurs. People that are really aggressive, motivated, and have had some success in business.  Do you know anyone that is really sharp that you think could mesh well with me?”

“Do you know of anyone that is looking to start their own business?  How about anyone that currently owns their own business and could be struggling?”

In one of my businesses I am looking for health contacts so I may say “Bob do you have anyone in your network that is a health nut, a personal trainer, or a fitness guru? Anyone like that”

You see those are leading questions and if they cannot think of someone right off the bat you must give them direction to get some leads over to you.

Let’s hope by now you have either realized that this person is a great client and better off that they already know that your service could help them.  That does not happen often but if it does it would be great to go ahead and set up another appointment which is what I call a ‘sales meeting’.  During that meeting you will discuss the product or service that you are offering.  Contact me directly and I can give you some free coaching on how to conduct a sales meeting.

If they are not a potential client you should hopefully leave that meeting with a list of people and that person can make introductions on your behalf.  You would then have a set way that person would make the introduction and now its your responsibly to do the same process over.

If you really have no synergy at all it may be best to call it off and keep networking.  Not everyone could be a great addition to your network and there are tons of people that are begging for your product and service; it’s your job to keep networking until you find them.  I was always told that “The best way to make a million dollars is to make a million friends”, so even adding just another friend to your network could be crucial.

I wish you all the best of luck in your networking ventures and I truly hope this information has been a help to you.

Casey Cavell

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