smarter networking

Network Smarter and Have More Fun

What if you could network smarter and have more fun doing it? Recently, I attended a networking meeting of mid-market professionals. The speaker, Terrell Tipton, spoke about getting the most out of networking. He gave us some great tips and a great sheet we can use for networking.

Are we doing all we can to prepare for networking, either in groups or one-on-one? Am I?

Getting Ready For A One-On-One Meeting

Imagine you meet someone one-on-one for coffee. You have met before at a group networking meeting.

  • You discovered you have some interests in common, e.g., a hobby such as hiking.
  • You like the person.
  • Your businesses are complimentary.
  • You seem to have clients in common. For example, you both work with clients in the “mid-market” arena.

Where do you go from there?

Terrell’s sheet is beneficial here. Ideally, you prepare it before you meet that person again, this time one-on-one. The sheet has spaces to fill in the following information:

  • Why are we networking? What are we looking for?
  • Three characteristics of our target clients?
  • Three people from your Linkedin profile we would like you to introduce to us
  • Three people from our LinkedIn profile you would like us to introduce to you
  • Three things we want someone to remember about us

The sheet also has some room for taking notes during the conversation.

Two Types of Referral Givers

Terrell’s talk and his sheet reminded me of what I had learned years ago from the Referral Institute (now called Asentiv). In referral marketing, there are two types of referral givers:

  1. Referral sources, i.e., people who refer you occasionally when they happen to see a need and think of you
  2. Referral partners, i.e., people who
    • Work with the same client base, and
    • Offer services or products that are complementary to yours, and
    • Who trained each other in what a great referral looks like for them

Referral partners invest time and attention in each other.

Networking is at its best when you build a relationship with a person you like, and that person turns into a referral partner. This focus is much more fun and effective than meeting a potential client or customer.

The Power Of LinkedIn and Defining Three Characteristics of Your Target Client

To fill out Terrell’s sheet means

  • Connect on Linkedin before your one-on-one meeting.
  • Take a look at the person’s LinkedIn profile. What are the person’s expertise and background? How do they present themself?
  • Take a look at the person’s connections.
  • Note which connections you already have in common. If something is interesting, you can bring it up when we meet. For example, “I saw you know Judy …. – how did you meet?”
  • If the person’s connections are searchable (depending on their LinkedIn settings), you can see who they know. You can prepare yourself to ask to be introduced to that person.
  • Thinking about three characteristics for your target clients

Many business owners and professionals feel that defining the top characteristics of their target clients is tricky. Yet, it is so important. Once I heard a skincare salesperson say, “An ideal client for me is someone who has skin!” That sounded clever at first, but it is pretty unhelpful. The clearer the other person/s are about who you are looking for, the more helpful they can be to you. Make it as easy for them as you can.

Many businesses can serve quite an array of clients. That is why the question about the target client is so hard.

Nonetheless, I invite you to take a stab at it. For example:

  • Niche: Companies in the technical sector, e.g., science, software, engineering, high-end glazing
  • Hyper niche: CEOs with a technical background. Must be open-minded, growth-focused and coachable.
  • Must be able to invest at least $1,000 for two months (offer 1) or $2,500+ for six months (offer 2) – You could also express this as a range of annual revenue or number of employees. I think the important point is to paint a specific picture in the other person’s mind.

The niche you list may not be the only one you serve. But if your potential referral partner can collaborate with you in that niche, it will help you both.

I’m Curious

  • How do you feel about networking in this way?
  • How do you define the three characteristics of your target client?

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