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Friday, September 26, 2008

Making The Most of Local Networking

By Bill Doerr
Sales and Marketing Editor

Bill's section is brought to you by qAlias

15 Second Executive Summary

Attending a number of recent local networking events has reminded me of some good lessons that are definitely worth keeping in mind if you want to leverage your local exposure factor and see meaningful results for all your time and efforts.

Many people feel they ‘show up’ but often leave with a feeling that they didn’t make the best use of their time or the potential opportunities at the event. By doing a few simple things, you can leave these events feeling your time and effort will produce a great ROI.

The lessons are very simple, do-able and highly effective, too.

Lesson 1: Learn Who’s Attending

Before attending any event it’s good to know who is there. Or, at least planning to be!

Most events are sponsored. And, planned. So ask the host for a list of potential attendees before the event takes place. More often than not you’ll get one! Review who’s supposed to be there. You’ll probably find people you’ve wanted to meet and voila! – now you can. You may also use this ‘advance’ information to help you decide what to bring and why. Recently, I noticed that someone I’ve wanted to meet was planning to attend an event I was attending as well. I brought one of my special reports for her. I was even able to personalize it. When we met at the event, I presented her with her personalized copy of my signature Special Report. Needless to say, she was impressed. I easily secured a follow-up meeting after the event and the expectation she has about me is far better than if I showed up ‘cold’. Yes, it takes planning. But boy, it’s sure worth it!

Lesson 2: Qualify Your Contacts

I really should say, “DIS-qualify”. Here’s why. Most people are good people. But, if you are seeking to find someone you can work with to grow your network or business, then not everyone is equally qualified to consume your time, money and energy.

My suggestion? Identify who has the ability to help you reach your business objectives and learn who doesn’t. That way, you invest your limited time, money and energy on those people where it will do you the most good!

I find the following system is helpful to ‘grade’ a networking contact. Use a simple scale of ‘1’ or ‘2’ or ‘3’ where ‘1’ means someone isn’t likely to know or come into contact with the kind of person who can best appreciate and respond to the benefit you offer; ‘2’ means you’re not sure; and ‘3’ means they are definitely likely to know the kind of person you want to meet. Then, put your time into further qualifying the ‘2’s and cultivating a relationship with the ‘3’s.

Lesson 3: Be a Host

There’s nothing more comforting than to be introduced to someone else by the host or hostess of a party. Unfortunately, there’s not enough hosts to go around. But being a host is more of state of mind than anything else.

So here’s your chance! Act like you’re the host of the event or venue. Bring people into contact with one another. You’ll be very appreciated and they’ll be better for it, too.

Lesson 4: Help The Other Person First

This is a fundamental issue. The best networkers I know (and I know quite a few!) are people who seek to help the ‘other’ person find some connection of value before they seek to satisfy that same need for themselves.

I like to ask, “Let’s suppose I ran into someone who is a candidate for your services . . . how would I know???”.

Unless you’re talking with a crashing boor, you’ll probably be asked the same question in return. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed!

When that happens, ask the ‘Magic Question’. Right after you’re asked what you do, tell the other person simply – e.g. “I’m a ___________; I help _________s to __________”. Keep your answer simple. Say what you have to say in one breath of air – no more. Then, without pausing, add, “Tell me, if you or a friend . . . should ever need to know someone who does what I just told you I do . . . does anyone come to mind that you would either use yourself or refer to a friend?”.

If they don’t have someone they’d use or refer, offer to be their ‘friend’ in your business.

If they do have someone they’d use or refer, acknowledge that fact. But then ask if they feel it’s a good idea to know more than one person in a field they may need. The way I do this with men is to ask, “If you were a football coach, would you want more players on the bench than you have positions on the field?” Their answer is, “Of course!”. From there, it’s easy to ask if you can apply to ‘sit on the bench’ in your field – in case they ever need another player because their existing relationship in your field is ever unavailable or lacks a specialized skill (e.g. some lawyers are litigators and others do transactional law) they may need. If they agree that makes sense (and most people do!), invite them to invite you to ‘keep-in-touch’ and ‘stay-in-mind’. Try it. It really works!

Lesson 5: Follow-up!

It’s easy to forget that your work isn’t finished until it’s all done! After attending any event or venue where you connect with new people, it’s critical that you bridge the initial contact venue and move into the everyday world of the person you’ve met.

At a minimum, send a notecard with a personal note after meeting someone. Why? For starters, no one else is likely to do this. Consequently, you’ll stand out from the crowd just by doing this simple, civil courtesy. Etiquette is a lost art. Demonstrate you have a modicum of manners and you’re sure to leave a lasting and very favorable impression.

Want to go even further? Invite the person to receive your email or snail-mail marketing communications on a regular basis. This is why you have a newsletter or e-zine. Use it!

Ultimate follow-up? Ask someone, “What do you do for a hobby?” Then search online for articles related to that topic you can send them a hyper-link to view online. Over time, you’ll find you’ve collected a virtual ‘library of links’ for all manner of content that you can email to someone a few days after you meet them with this simple subject line: “Just thinking of you . . .”. As a way to demonstrate an attitude of thoughtfulness, this is pretty darned hard to beat!


Your time is a limited commodity. Therefore it’s precious and valuable. Networking events, business conferences and everyday opportunities inherently hold great promise but, if you don’t plan to make the most of them, you probably won’t.

The five lessons described above will, if you apply them, help you enjoy an above-average ROI for the time, money and energy you invest in meeting with new people anywhere.

Bill Doerr,CCO of SellMore Marketing, LLC is the creator of The Preferral Prospecting System™,

The Expert Directory™, The Client Machine™ and The Ultimate Client Development System™.

He is an Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach and a licensed facilitator of the Get Clients NOW! program. Bill uses these resources to help service providers generate more awareness in their marketing area, interest in their services, and revenues in their bank. You can reach Bill by phone at: 860-798-6964, online: by email: or through the TNNW Blog:

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for such an insightful article. I will definitely put much of your advice into practice. You are so right when you mentioned the lack of courtesy,manners, and just simple things like thank you notes in our society. It always amazes me how it is the "little" things one does that stand out for other people- holding a door open, taking a personal interest in them, asking their opinion, giving a genuine compliment, and so on.

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