Whether you’re actively Networking for a Living at the moment, or just dipping a first tentative toe into the vast Social Networking ocean, it’s critical you understand why you’re doing it and what you want to achieve.
The answer to the question won’t fundamentally change what you need to do, but it will define how you do it and where you should focus your efforts to achieve best results efficiently. The key thing is to be really honest with yourself:
- Are you doing it out of desperation, as a result of cash-flow problems, or impending redundancy, for instance.......?
- Do you want to go out on your own, or are you looking for your next move within the corporate world.....?
It doesn't matter what your motives are, the bottom line is that if you don’t understand why you’re networking and what you want to get out of it, in terms of results, then you’re probably going to fail.
The first thing you need to work out is what you’re promoting – is it you, the expert, or is it a more corporate approach, with products and services. In other words, is it about a personal brand or is it a business brand?
If it’s you that you want to promote, because you are the "product" and people buy your expertise and/or time, then it’s a bit easier than if it’s a company. However, even if it’s a company, you should still promote yourself as an expert in whatever it is your company does – people buy people first – and it’s you they will be approaching and interacting with as a result of your efforts.
So, having worked out what it is you’re going to promote and why, you now need to think about what this should look and feel like – your BRAND, or your Reputation in the Marketplace. I’m not talking about a logo here – this is about your personal and business values, who you are, what you do (and don’t do), what I can expect as a customer...... etc.
If people like you, trust you and respect you and understand your value proposition, then they are more likely to buy from you, remember you and recommend you......... conversely, if your messages are unclear, contradictory, confusing, ambiguous, or you simply don’t get to the point quickly enough, then you’re very unlikely to do business with these people.
It also has to be delivered in a way that isn’t pushy or desperate, or feels like you are selling to them from the outset, because even if what you have to offer is excellent, you’re unlikely to make a sale with the person stood in front of you and you’re extremely unlikely to get recommended by them – why would they want to inflict you on their friends, when they’ve just suffered an unpleasant experience dealing with you themselves...?
On the other hand, if you’re new to this whole Networking for a Living thing, then it’s going to take a while to “polish” your pitch and your presentation style, so accept that you’re likely to make mistakes along the way, but it’s generally OK to be honest with people in the early days and ask for feedback. Anyone who doesn’t give you the time probably isn’t worth knowing anyway!
The critical thing to remember here, is that if you're a Networking Expert, you're already standing out from the crowd, who are still running around in a clueless fashion, not knowing what to do, or how to do it - this is part of your competitive edge!
So that’s you and your proposition sorted – the next article will be on the channels in which you need to focus your efforts........