Q. Dear Zenagos,
When I go to networking events, I talk to lots of people, and some of them seem like they could even be customers. But, I never get actual sales. How do I get more sales from going to networking events?
Making networking events an effective sales channel is a skill – one that takes time and practice to develop. The first step is to focus on the conversation. Everyone knows that you have something to sell – that’s what networking events are for – but nobody likes to feel like they are being sold.
Be Personable, Not Transactional
If you’re not comfortable selling, then you may feel anxious when you are networking. Other parties at the event will be able to sense your nervousness, but they won’t know its source. (For example, they may think that you don’t like them.) If you are thinking of the event as your opportunity to close a big business deal, you may make this dynamic even worse. Nobody wants to feel like a target or a mark. The solution is to release the pressure. Try to think of the event as a dinner party – a chance to get to know some new people. Focus on being personable and having great conversations.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
When you’re nervous and don’t know what to say, ask questions. Try to make them open-ended. For example, instead of saying, “Are you an attorney?” which has a yes/no answer and may not lead to further conversation. Try saying, “What is an ideal client for you?” Keep experimenting with your conversational technique until you can keep a smooth and easygoing banter going.
Good relationships are based on Know-Like-Trust or KLT. If someone gets to know, like, and trust you, they are more likely to engage with you. In the short term, this means they are more likely to introduce you to someone in their network. In the long term, this may mean that they will become a customer or even a raving fan of your business.
It’s hard to be patient when you don’t have enough customers and you are struggling to keep your business afloat. However, every positive conversation you have moves you one step closer to your next customer, and eventually to the success you envision for your business.
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