In last week’s segment, we discussed “How To Make Networking Work” by creating a give first and expect nothing mindset. This week, I’d like to explain how to use this strategy to further gain interest from the prospective client and to secure that first meeting.
Main Street Chamber held a mixer this week and I made some observations of behaviors I feel to be detrimental to the business owner. First, I am still amazed by how many people will attend an event and not have their business cards with them. While this may seem harmless, doing so does nothing to further your professional image and it shows a potential customer that you are simply unprepared and not serious. As we have all experienced, it is difficult to recover from bad first impressions. Second, a Chamber member, who is a manager at one of our local banks, pointed out that an attendee was walking up to people and shoving business cards at them and asking for one in return. This guest made no attempt to create a relationship, explain his profession or even to simply introduce himself! A business card with no connection behind it is the one that gets dumped at the end of the evening.
Our “give first” strategy is so effective because it allows you to be in control. When we initially meet someone, the first thing we need to “give” is the chance for him or her to describe the product or service they offer. Because you are in control, with three easy questions, you should be able to quickly gather enough information to decide if you want to pursue a relationship:
1. What is it that you do? After all, that’s why they are attending the event.
2. What are your passions? Be prepared, this is where you begin to build the relationship with this person. Learning about their passions gives you enough information to decide if you want to keep connecting. When you give the gift of empowerment to another person, you will leave a lasting, positive impression.
3. What can I (we, us, my company, etc) do to help you? Wow, you asked that question and they probably don’t even know what you do yet. But, if they talked to you about their passions, they will probably begin asking about you, as well. Always better if they ask rather than you behaving like the aforementioned guest.
Sometimes I never ask question three at the event. I save that question for our first meeting, which I have opened the door to by asking question two. How? “(Name) I could listen to you all evening talking about (the passion)! I’d like to ask you for a favor, is it OK if I buy you a cup of coffee later this week? I really would like you to teach me more about (the passion)?” Voila.
Warning: If you are not genuinely interested in the person you are speaking with, this will not work. Most people, especially business owners, can spot insincerity a mile away.
In our next segment, we will discuss how to conduct this first appointment.
About Our Show Advisor: Dirk Cummins is a practicing financial consultant who attended the University of Virginia at Quantico, Virginia while serving in the United States Marine Corps. He is a CHARTERED FINANCIAL CONSULTANT® (ChFC®), and has completed the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® (CFP®)certification curriculum. Dirk is also a CERTIFIED DIVORCE FINANCIAL ANALYST™ (CDFA™). Dirk's areas of specialization include business and individual planning. Dirk's professional career began in 1974 in his hometown of Canton, Ohio. In 1978 he accepted a position with Lineberry Financial Group and relocated to Houston. He has held various positions within the financial services industry prior to starting his own firm. Dirk has been involved with numerous volunteer groups and is currently serving as the President of the MainStreetChamber Houston Chapter and State Director for the MainStreetChamber. He has also served on the Advisory Board for the Academy of Finance at Spring Branch ISD and on the Pro Bono Committee for the Financial Planning Association Houston chapter. He has also served as Past President of the Crossroads Chapter of Services Cooperative Association as well as a member of the Board of Directors. He has also served as an Advisory Board member of the Entrepreneurial Development Center and a member of the Board of Directors of Women Achieving Independence & Financial Success. He was a Republican Party Precinct Chair in Harris County, and an Election Judge in Harris County.