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The Art Of Asking The Right Questions
When you start to build the relationship it is all about asking the right questions. It's far more important to be interested than interesting. People love talking about themselves, your role as a good networker is to let them...
You go networking with the intention of creating new business opportunities. But, as networking is all about building relationships, you can't just meet a stranger at an event saying, "Hi, my name is Jack, I'm a trainer, do you want to buy my services?" I tried it but it doesn't work!
When you start to build the relationship it is all about asking the right questions. It's far more important to be interested than interesting. People love talking about themselves, your role as a good networker is to let them. To emphasise this, who are the most interesting people you meet? Those, who are most interested in you.
Try this route to spotting an opening for your services.
1) SMALL TALK
You can't do big business until you've done the small talk. Talk about their outside interests and hobbies, their holidays and travel, their views on general financial matters and current events, their home and surroundings. Be careful about talking about their family and connections until you have started building rapport. You often find that within five minutes you have something in common on which to build an interesting and useful conversation.
2) FINDING OUT ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS
You can't sell anything until you understand what's needed. So consider asking questions like:
* How many people do you work with? Early on in the conversation you need to find out whether the person you're talking to is the owner, a key member of management or a member of the team. Knowing numbers tells you how big the business is. Is this size of business your target market?
* How are you finding business at the moment?
* What do you see as your key issues at the present time?
* Where do you see the business going over the next few years?
When you meet the owner, particularly one who has set up his/her own business from scratch, they will want to talk and talk. I repeat, let them! You'll find out as much as you need, believe me. At some stage polite people will ask about you and what you do. Don't miss the opportunity to tell them not only what you are but also how your existing clients and customers benefit from your services. Sell yourself first, services second.
If you're an accountant or graphic designer that's fine, says so. But try this. "What I am is an accountant (or graphic designer) but what I do is help my clients grow their business (or, what I do is help my customers create the right image for their company).
3) THEIR RELATIONSHIP WITH THEIR EXISTING SUPPLIERS
Now we are building to the big moment. You've found out about them, you ascertain it's your market and they know what you do.
"So Joe, who do you use for your accountant (graphic designers) at the moment?"
The moment of truth has arrived. Generally we're not great listeners but now is the moment for you to give it your all. Use both ears and both eyes. Watch and listen to the answer. People can lie with words but rarely with body language and tone of voice. Depending on the way they answer will help you establish whether there is an opportunity.
"My graphic designer is fantastic, she's so creative and is always so reliable".
"My accountant is okay, I don't really understand what he does, but then I've had nothing to compare him against."
4) MAKING THE NEXT MOVE
Even though your aerial's on and your radar is whirling round, keep your powder dry. I know it's hard but try to go back to the small talk.
Networking is normally done at a very special time; time normally spent with your social partner your children your friends and family. Even if you have got none of these you're stealing it from yourself. DON'T WASTE IT!
"You remember, Joe, about 10 minutes ago you said you weren't sure what your accountant actually did. How would you feel if I gave you a ring next week to find out more about your business and to explore ideas."
Surely this is the whole reason for your being at an event? You know when you have built rapport so make your networking time effective.
What do you do next?
You make the call and try and get an appointment to do business!
What's your opinion?
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