Do your recognise your opportunity when networking?

Hopefully, we all know by now that networking is about building relationships. If we go networking trying to sell, we’ll be doomed to failure, because no one ever goes networking with the intention of buying anything.

This particularly applies when presenting your business when networking (whether online or in person). Remember, if no one there is going to buy your product, it is pointless selling your services to the room. 

This reminds me of a presentation I once saw at a networkign group from an Independent Financial Advisor. He announced to the room that he was going to talk about his critical illness policy, and how important it was to be well covered. He then went around the room, pointing to different people saying: “you’ve got my policy so you’ll be fine – you haven’t though so you’re in trouble – you have, you haven’t” and so on.

Was this a good presentation on his business? Of course it wasn’t – firstly, he was clearly breaking client confidentialities. Secondly, and crucially, he was limiting potential demand for his product to just the people in the room.

There are two reasons why this is not good networking practice:

1.   In networking groups, there is an understanding that the members are there to help each other with growing their business through the process of passing referrals. Indeed, in many such networking groups, there is an expectation that the members will bring referrals for their fellow members. It is a complete waste of time selling to the room, because if anyone needs your product or service, they’re likely to use you anyway!

2.   Selling to the room is not only a complete waste of time, it is a wasted opportunity. Let’s say the room that you’re presenting your business to has, aside from you, 40 people in it. How many contacts does each of those business people have? How many people do you know? Think of the following:

  • Friends
  • Family
  • Clients
  • Suppliers
  • Colleagues
  • Ex-Colleagues
  • Mobile phone contacts
  • Contacts at sports club or gym
  • Contacts at your religious group (if applicable)
  • Contacts through children (parents of school friends, parent/teacher groups)
  • Networking contacts
  • Online contacts

When you total all these people up, the chances are you’ll be talking hundreds, if not thousands of contacts. Therefore, the potential demand for your product or service isn’t just the 40 people in the room. Instead, those 40 people are your potential sales force who could get you access to up to 40,000 people. That’s when networking gets interesting. 

As an Unnatural Networker, it’s worth remembering this. If you’re ever tempted to pass up on the chance to network because you are feeling a bit nervous about it, or you’ve heard there’s only going to be a few people there: you just never know who those people are going to know. And with 1,000 contacts each, that’s a lot of people.

So remember – present your business not with the intention of selling to the room, but to sell through the room.