The more people you mix with and the more they are inspired by you and what you are up to, the more you will attract people wanting to buy from you. Simple really. All that is required is for you to interact with others and to share what you have to offer. So why do we need articles on how to network? Why does it feel so exhausting? All these early morning meetings and over enthusiastic thrusting of business cards at each other? It’s because we have forgotten the natural art of communication. We have confused selling and networking. We think we have failed if we’ve interacted with someone, enjoyed a beautiful conversation with that person and they have failed to buy our product or service. When we put the sales target before the person, we get into a muddle.
It is all about people. Sales targets are reached easily and powerfully when we match the needs of the person with the benefits of our offerings. The tricky bit is discovering what another person really needs. It requires that you ask lots of questions. …and that you listen to the answers! If you are too busy talking about yourself , your company and what you have to offer, there is no time left to find out if the other person is really in the market to buy from you. Worse than that, you could bore them silly and they will remember you and your company for all the wrong reasons! Alternatively you could enjoy a really juicy personal conversation with someone , that might not have anything to do with your respective businesses but that builds trust and respect. Some of the most gorgeous “networking” that I have done was at Diva Dressings Clothes Swap evening….there is something very intimate about chatting to someone new when you’re in the changing rooms stripped to your underwear or squeezed into an ill-fitting outfit!! No room for pretence or cover up in that environment!
OK so gorgeous juicy conversations will build up trust but what if you do need business quickly and you can’t afford the luxury of time. Well, there is a way to network that builds trust and that inspires people to buy from you. It is straight forward, honest and comes from a place of total integrity and clarity about who you are and what you offer. Engage in conversation. Get really interested in what the other person has to say. Be curious. Imagine that you then will have to introduce them to the rest of the group. Have you paid enough attention to paint an accurate picture of who they are and what they are interested in? What are they inspired by? This is a crucial question. It is the difference between identifying a buyer’s need and the opportunity they perceive in buying from you. For example, you may need to get a dress for the next Business Awards dinner. A need is something that needs to be sorted , with the minimum amount of time and usually the minimum amount of budget. You delegate the task to your assistant or stylist and provide them with the appropriate budget.
Now if I design and sell dresses and I am talking with you in this context , I might choose to talk about how my dresses are reasonably priced. If I am a Personal Assistant, I might share how I could source dresses in the quickest amount of time possible. Both offerings are valid, and both may sound attractive, providing the price is within your budget. However if I allow our conversation to expand beyond what is needed i.e. a dress in time for an event, and I explore, through being genuinely interested in what this event actually means to you, I start to uncover your true aspirations and drivers. I may discover for example that it is important for you to look good at this event. You are expecting to win an award. The press will be there. You understand the impact of a powerful image. It sends a message about you and your company. The wrong outfit and people will either dismiss you or remember the outfit rather than your company or what you stand for. The right outfit and you leave a lasting impression that will be worth more than an advertising campaign in the Sunday papers! Now double that value if there is also a certain gentleman or business contact who you want to impress on the evening …..and suddenly the choice is no longer limited by budget or speed. You will order and pay for the BEST dress, of course! The seller who takes the time to understand what is really at stake for the customer is the one who can demand her price.
But most people don’t give away what they really care about to strangers. They talk about what they need, and when they need it by. They may explain why they need it, but they don’t normally offer up their personal aspirations. We are not used to sharing our secrets with strangers. To uncover what a person REALLY cares about you need to earn their trust. Trust is earned by really being with them, and really getting to understand their world. People will open up when you are prepared to be open , and even vulnerable with them. ( I can tell you that standing in my holdups did more to build trust and bonding than wearing the armour of my red suit…..not that I am suggesting going out in your underwear!!) It involves listening without watching the rest of the room. It involves staying with one person, not flitting like a butterfly from one to another. It involves a commitment to really understand another human being. It involves giving up preconceptions and judgments about others. It’s not for the impatient or the person chasing their sales figures.
But for the person who is willing, networking becomes an expression of love. And in that context money will flow to you effortlessly. Without knowing why, people will find ways to buy from you. Done with 100% integrity and purity of purpose, you will be unstoppable. Most of all, you will have fun and you will leave networking events inspired and uplifted , irrespective of the number of orders promised. And when you are inspired and uplifted you can do and attract anything you want!
Go network. Go make conversation. Go make love….and have fun! People look for reasons to buy from fun loving people. They are like magnets.