Networking Part 4 - How to Assess Someone's Value as a Contact
Following on from our previous article, we take a closer look at the fundamentals of this increasingly important business skill, beginning with networking events themselves.
So far, we’ve looked at some of the important, but largely unwritten rules of networking events, such as not selling directly to fellow attendees and not thinking you’re at a social event. Now it’s time to take action.
So, Let’s Introduce Yvonne – a Lawyer and Experienced Networker
If she’s the first person you meet, it’s worth taking the time to get your conversational flow going. However, while doing so, you should be assessing her value as a contact.
It sounds cold, I know, but you’re not there to make friends – and if talking to her is wasting your time, you may also be wasting hers. So, what should you look for?
Yvonne’s Value as a Contact Depends Not on Her Business but on Her Business Network
A lawyer may not seem a good fit for a graphic designer, but if her firm specialises in media then she could be a great source of introductions. So, remember, it’s not just about her; it’s also about who she’s facing every day. That’s what you need to find out.
Remember also that her husband or best friend or neighbour or once-a-week squash partner could all be in different professional fields. Any one of them could be a valuable introduction. So, ask about her life, as well as her livelihood.
If you eventually decide that you and Yvonne can’t really help each other, there’s no problem. See if you can politely invite another person into the conversation and then slip away.
If, on the other hand, she’s bubbling over with potential connections, then it’s time to move to the next stage. Is she open to a half-hour coffee meeting? If so, then you have the opportunity to move the relationship for-ward and build more trust. If you recall our point from an earlier article you will have moved into ‘the second room’.
Yvonne Has Agreed to Meet for Coffee Next Wednesday
Great! Now it’s time to repeat the process with some more people before the meeting ends. And, in the next part of this series, we’ll discuss how you can use coffee meetings to edge closer to actually doing business.
More Small Business Guide
Try these tips to build your contact list, improve your networking skills and grow your business.
Think of networking events not as one-off sales opportunities but as the foundations for new connections.