Word-of-mouth advertising is one of the cheapest and most effective types of advertising that you and your company can get. And now that summer is over and the holiday season begins to creep up on us, it’s time to get out of your office and network with people at your local Chamber of Commerce, industry association or a business card exchange event. However, the reality is this: very few people go to these events to buy what you are selling.
When You Are Networking, You Are Not Selling.
When you are at a networking event or holiday business gathering, don’t focus on trying to sell to everyone. Look at it as an opportunity to be a teacher, a center of influence and a fountain of knowledge for buying what you are selling. By making a few changes to your approach you can become a center of influence in any industry and, in effect, generate a considerable amount of word-of-mouth advertising.
One of the biggest mistakes most people make when they network is trying to sell to someone. This is the LAST thing you should do! Don’t talk about how great you are or why someone should buy from you. Just have a brief, general overview of what you do and the type of people you work with. Tell people this enthusiastically and you will find people asking you more about what you do. If you go into a heavy sales pitch, you will only end up pushing opportunities away.
It all Begins with Taking an Interest In Other People.
Experts have proven that people like those who are interested in them. One of the fastest ways of getting people to talk is to ask them questions about what they do. So, what type of questions can you ask someone? A few questions that you can ask at your next networking event include the person’s name (obviously!) and what line of work he or she is in. You might also inquire whether the person owns the company, how long the company has been in business, and where the company is located.
Questions of this nature keep the conversation rolling and provide you with some interesting background information. When your conversation has concluded, get out a pen and write down on their business cards some key information about them. When you get back to the office, enter their names in your CRM tool so you can keep track of these people electronically. This will make it easier when it comes time to send them electronic newsletters or direct-mail campaigns.
If you do this at every networking event you attend, the word will spread rather quickly that YOU are the person everyone needs to turn to when buying what you are selling. You can also leverage your sales by sending these same people a series of e-mail newsletters and direct mail campaigns.
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