Once upon a time, I was told that I had to go business networking. I drove my car to a country club for a breakfast meeting, bright-eyed and bushy tailed….and spent at least half the meeting fumbling over my words.
After a few weeks of this – plus way too many danishes and bagels – I realized that if I was going to make even a single sale, I sure as heck better figure out how to turn these, um, social gatherings into meaningful sales connections.
Well, most of the deals I closed were valued at several thousand dollars. (My record stands at $27,000!) After over seven years in the trenches, here is my very best advice for you:
Know thy Elevator Pitch
In just 10 seconds you should be able to tell someone what you do. Ready…go.
If you sounded like drunken Daffy Duck you were shooting about average for that exercise. Here’s a basic script:
- Hi, I’m ____ I <problem your clients struggle with><how you help them>.
- Hi, I’m Elspeth, I’m a copywriter who increases sales for vegans, coaches and entrepreneurs.
- Hi, I’m Jane, I’m a health coach who works with busy moms that struggle to feed their family healthy dinners.
- Hi, I’m Bob, I’m a financial coach that helps small businesses understand cashflow and increase their profits.
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Ask Pointed Questions
That’s interesting Bob…
- What did you do before you were a financial coach?
- What made you decide to pursue financial coaching?
- How long have you been doing this?
- Do you work for yourself? etc.
Offer to Help Others
Now, you are going to close out your five minutes with Bob. You will say, How can I help you? This may be a referral to someone you know, or simply a direct introduction to another person at the event with you.
Listen for Connections Carefully
Usually, if you are paying attention, you can quickly establish who someone’s biggest corporate clients are pretty quickly. And what industry they work in.
This intel will allow you to categorize the contact. My sales coach taught me the ABCD method:
- A – hot contact. Someone who may do business with you.
- B – good connection. Someone who can refer you to business.
- C – might work with other businesses, but it’s a vague connection.
- D – the cards you just throw away…
Let’s look at the ABCD method above again. Remember that if you are a business coach that wants to do conflict coaching in corporations, someone who works with businesses is a good connection.
Know Who You Want to Meet
The most successful networkers go to high-end events in order to meet business contacts – specifically. They have their eye on one person who they know is going to be there.
Otherwise, think of your buying persona and try to connect with a generalized audience of that buyer.
Try Out a Lot of Groups
Joining membership clubs costs thousands of dollars a year. If you are a coach just starting out in the holistic health field, even if your program does well, you probably don’t want to invest in the wrong groups. Try them all (free!) before you commit to any.
Follow up is Key
I have a new way of following up with my connections: I send an email and research them online. If they reach back out, I will continue to keep them in the loop.
Make sure you allow at least a few days for a response and then follow up again for any A and B contacts (up to 5 times). For C and D contacts, you may want to add them to your LinkedIn profile or keep them in mind for invites to functions.
Work the Room
Your goal is to meet as many people as possible. So do it. Learn effective ways to end the conversation quickly when you realize you aren’t speaking to a A or B connection:
- I’ll keep you in mind. Thanks for chatting.
- That’s good to know in case I need ___.
- Who else do you know here?
- I hope to see you again sometime.
Decision Makers Make ____.
Decisions. And each event only lasts two hours. Don’t spend too much time trying to offer your services to insurance salesmen and bankers; they work for giant conglomerates.
For some holistic coaches, business networking may not be the best way to tell the world what you do. Instead, forging online connections can have a much more powerful result.
Therefore, consider looking for:
- Yoga / health retreats
- Conferences / retreats
- Small, private groups
- Fairs or
- Meetups (like Meetup.com)
If you are a financial coach, business coach, or marketing coach, try to ask your business networking contacts if they are hosting any small events at their location.
Oh, and smile. And no complaining. The ultimate goal is just to get people to like you – so, yeah, fluffy, happy, kitten stories only, please.
Elspeth Misiaszek uses her writing and online marketing skills to help vegan businesses, coaches and entrepreneurs increase sales on their websites and blogs. Is it SEO? Get our FREE blogging resource today.