Sunday, November 25, 2007

Networking...a Different Way

I’ve been reassessing the roles we play in our networking groups and what we can bring to the table to make these confabs more rewarding…especially for ourselves. And I was reminded of a column that ran in this space a couple of years ago:

Sally Ann Phillips and Todd Paris have the right idea. Sally is the self-described Marketing Maven with Mariner, an IT firm; Todd is a Registered Representative with AXA Advisors, a financial services company. Both these colleague/friends are in business networking groups to which I belong. Independent of each other, however, they came up with a common approach to maximizing their opportunities to gather referrals.

Welcome to another edition of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

Rather than – as we all do – orally declare in general terms that their “best customer” is such and such a size, and has sales of X-amount, Sally and Todd respectively produce a sheet of paper to the group. On that sheet (Sally and Todd prepare their own in their own format) they ask for specifics – “Here’s a list of 20 companies in town,” they might ask. “Can you give me the name of ANYONE working at ANY of these places? And I don’t care if they’re the custodian. As long as I can talk to them, and in turn they can lead me to the decision-maker that I need to see…”

Sally and Todd are betting that, if you’re presented with a list of named companies in town, there’s a good chance you know somebody doing something at one of those companies. And if you can supply them with that name, implying that you know that person, well, that’s better than an absolute cold call, isn’t it?

Try it the next time you go to one of your networking groups. Prepare a printed list, not just of industries but also of specific companies, organizations, etc. that you’d like to “get into.” Place a line next to each company with room for a contact name. Any contact name. And push everyone in your group to think hard (it may not be such hard thinking, after all) to fill it out and hand it back to you…no later than the conclusion of your meeting.

Voila! Instant referrals.

That’s better than waiting for those in your group, after they’ve heard your 30-second weekly spiel, to get back to you “later,” isn’t it?

Joel Kweskin

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