News & Events
#005 – How to network and build trust and rapport
- 3rd May 2017
- Posted by: Nicky
- Category: Episodes
Today’s Marketing Menu Podcast is all about the sometimes thorny area of business networking, and how to get it right so that you build trust and rapport with potential clients and contacts.
Why’s it thorny?
Well, I think it terrifies an awful lot of people so I guess I’m really keen to either help listeners who have yet to try it out or to help those who still feel uncomfortable. I know it took me a good few months to actually say I enjoyed it.
Certainly, the networking world has exploded in recent years with many national organisations springing up as well as a wealth of local business groups.
I don’t know about you but when I started out on my own it was my first step into the bigger world so that I could just get out there and meet potential clients. But surely networking is not going to be relevant to every type of business listening in is it?Download Transcript 298kb
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Well, that actually leads me on to an important point really about what I see as the value of networking.
On the networking circuits I’ve been on, I’ve been amazed by the diversity of people attending, and yes I have met builders and plumbers and colour experts you know from Colour Me Beautiful say, and even the marketing manager for some London strip clubs.
Strip clubs, seriously?
Yes, she was looking for people planning a stag do or wanting to run, shall we say, alternative corporate events. Although I would suggest, there is always a range of accountants, lawyers, recruiters and marketers in the room there can be some interesting surprises.
That’s a good point, Nicky. And I think it’s worth mentioning here that it is worth checking out the different types of networking meetings. They’re not all the same. Some are strictly business-focused, some are more social. They’re all at different times, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Some require you to make referrals, others are more casual and leave you to it. If you can check the membership of a group beforehand, you’ll get an idea of the other types of businesses represented. So, it really depends on what is right for your business.
That’s right. We know a funeral director who regularly attends a group we both go to. Now he self-confessedly is not looking for clients in the room but what he is doing is building trust and rapport with others who may need his services because of some sad or unfortunate situation. what I like is he is really thinking outside the box. What I like is he is really thinking outside the box, if you’ll pardon the pun! I know him and how enthused he is about his business and the obvious care he takes over his client relationships. I think I’d say I’d definitely call him should I need or know others who may have a need.
So, you mentioned how you see the value of networking, what do you mean by that exactly?
Well yes okay, so I may be a little provocative here but after several years of networking, I don’t necessarily value networking as a means of getting new clients.
But hang on a minute, what’s the point then?
Well the way I see it is that when I go out networking, quite often I find the people in the room who know they could, or should, be doing better marketing, but once they have a website, be it that they’re often in the early stages of developing their business, they often don’t have the resources to employ my services. In reality, they may not be at that point for a couple of years, so it’s my job to make sure that I stay in touch long enough for them to get to that point, which may be challenging too, as often they are going to leave the networking circuit as their businesses gets bigger and they’ve less time to commit to it.
Well yes, I get that particularly for our field say, but that’s not always likely to be the case?
Oh for sure, because let’s say I need a plumber. Obviously I’m going to have a more immediate need, which brings me round to my point on the value of networking, for me at least. And that is it’s all about building a network of like-minded business professionals.
Over time, all of my suppliers have come from people I’ve met on the networking circuit, bar one or two exceptions. In fact, Liz, if you remember, our first meeting was at a networking event when as I fondly recall, after I did my elevator pitch you basically said, “I’ll say what she said.”
Haha! I do remember that. It’s true it’s about understanding the bigger picture and surrounding yourself with others you have an affinity with. I’d also say it’s about getting to know what’s going on in the local business community. I find that invaluable insight when it comes to sitting down with a new potential client as quite often I find we know the same companies, it shows I’ve got my finger on the pulse I suppose.
Now you mentioned something there I’d like you to expand on, the elevator pitch, can you explain more because I know that that is something a lot of people fall down on. So just to be clear, that’s the bit when either someone just asks you what you do for a living or when people go round the table, and you have an opportunity to introduce yourself, usually in 1 minute or less.
Yes, that’s right.
So what tips would you give people who either haven’t networked before or those who feel they could do better.
Yes, the dreaded elevator pitch or juicy intro as I like to call it. So, first off you don’t want to come off too scripted, so think carefully about your body language and your tone of voice, use a bit of inflection if you tend to have a flat tone, use eye contact, and open body language and smile, the smile is very important. But I would also suggest you have one or two semi-scripted things in your head that you can just roll out. It will make you more confident, and that will show.
So true, I like to think in terms of ‘what’s in it for them’, which I suppose relates neatly back to our last marketing menu podcast on What Makes Your Customer Tick which listeners can still listen to on their streaming service after this podcast. If you know what type of business they’re looking for, you can word your pitch effectively in a way they will understand.
Yes, and then wrap it up with a statement that will say how their life or business may change after working with you. I know for example a fitness psychologist who will stand at the front of the room and say, “I make you look good naked”, and then goes on to describe how, because after all who doesn’t want to look good naked whether it’s about personal body perception or doing something about it.
You’re back to the strip club again Nicky aren’t you, come back to the room!
Ok then, just a quick recap at this point – think about how others see you, rather than how you see yourself, and if you’re not comfortable, my big tip would be to have an alter ego. I have a good client who offers really sound professional business support, but he’s just not confident talking about himself. I had to say because I like to think he trusts and values my encouragement, get over yourself, elevate your proposition and step out from the shadows or you are just doing yourself an injustice. Put on a networking cloak if needs be and just pretend you’re uber confident for half an hour. And if all else fails, just show interest in others rather than trying to get them interested in you. Do I sound really bossy?!
Not at all! That’s interesting because you’ve just touched on how I approach networking which goes hand in hand with building trust and rapport. I think what you’re saying is think about how you can help others more than seeing people as a prospect in the room. Ultimately I guess we all know that’s what we’re there for, but that’s the long game really isn’t it?
Yes, you must give in order to receive. So always prioritise helping and giving to others ahead of taking and receiving for yourself, even if the process is hidden and the results take a little while.
Use the principle of ‘what goes around comes around.’
Imagine if you’re known for this, word about you spreads, and your reputation grows.
So, at a simple level, always try to ask helpful questions. These typically begin with ‘what’ and ‘how,’ and address an area of interest to the other person, not you.
Open questions (who, what, how, when, etc. – also “Tell me about…”) give the other person an opportunity to speak and express their views and feelings.
Whereas closed questions (requiring a yes or no answer, or another single response, for example, “Is this your first time here?”) don’t offer the other person much opportunity to talk. Although at certain times a good relevant closed question can be vital for clarifying things.
Yes, and there are so many tools online if you want to explore this further. I know I’d like to learn more about the communications concepts of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques for helping others, and for understanding people psychology.
I’d also add if you do find yourself in a room full of competitors, try to approach them as potential allies. After all, we’re a shining example of that, aren’t we?
Definitely! As I’ve already mentioned that most of my suppliers now come from people I’ve met when networking, I’ve worked with business coaches for client’s business strategies, on open market social media training programmes, with website designers who lack the skills needed to address client’s marketing strategies, you name it, and of course best of all, is you Liz.
Awww, share the love! I know we could talk about this subject all day but we’re running out of time so I guess this may be the time to say to our listeners that if you are enjoying this Marketing Menu podcast please do make sure you share and subscribe via iTunes, Tune-in or Blubrry when this item has finished. We’re a new channel and we’d really like to get out there and help as many growing businesses as possible by making some impact. But before we go on Nicky I think it’s important that we do a quick recap of the key points covered.
Ok, so first again see yourself as others see you, and if you need to moderate your voice, body language, facial expressions or confidence level do it. Sorry but it’s simply too valuable to get wrong.
Secondly, have 1 or 2 decent juicy intros up your sleeve as it will help confidence levels, and think about the issues and desires that people are facing and then link that back to how your service or offering will benefit them.
Ask open questions, and I’d also say practice makes perfect. It may sound silly, but I sometimes rehearse in the car out loud on my way to events just to keep it at the forefront of my mind.
If you can’t think of something different to say, talk in terms of recent projects that you’ve worked on to give a flavour of what it is you do, and how you helped. Or talk about the sort of people you’re looking to meet and ask others for recommendations, that way it doesn’t seem like your canvassing them directly.
And I would add to that by saying it’s all about the long game. Obviously, people aren’t going to get to know you if you only occasionally turn up once every three months, so choose your groups wisely and then dig in.
That’s a great point, Liz, sporadic networking is like sporadic marketing, confused at best.
And finally, I’d like to say it’s all about the follow-up. You may have the best juicy intro as Nicky puts it, but the best networking happens outside of the room with those you arrange to meet up with afterwards.
That’s where we start to make a lasting impression. There are two main reasons for the importance of following up, first because it follows through with that building trusted relationships. And secondly, because you never know when learning more about someone what other opportunities may come up. There may well be unexpected surprises that may benefit you. Look at us for example – when we initially met, we had no idea it would lead to us developing The Marketing Menu! That came from the follow-up meetings.
Obviously, there are have been times when frankly I have wasted valuable time with the wrong sort of meeting so be prepared to say no if you feel a meeting is not right for you, but I would caution against this because ultimately we never really know who they know, and that person may end up linking us up with someone else who may be a better prospect.
Yes, I would agree with you there, so just before we finish let’s round up with some quick tips as we always like to do on the Marketing Menu so that listeners have some key points to take away from today’s podcast. Don’t forget we are also offering a free transcript – all you need to do to get this is head over to our website themarketingmenu.com. Just to remind you we publish a new podcast every fortnight on a Wednesday and of course, we’re here to tailor the content to your needs so if you’ve any questions please do get in touch. But most of all please share our channel with others who you feel may benefit from tuning in. So, top tips Liz.
Yes, so we talked out having a juicy intro and how you may create that, and the importance of self-checking yourself.
Then we said how important it is to follow up and consider it as a long game.
It’s not necessarily about building immediate clients there in the room but also about being seen as part of the wider business community, choosing the right groups for you and then digging in.
I’d also add, use those all-important business cards and stay in touch via email marketing, always giving people the option to opt out of your emails of course and then I’d say try to be a little different and try to stand out.
Yes, that’s true there are people who are natural enthusiasts or those who have great humour and we can’t all be like that or it would be a constant party. It may sound daft but I always wear bright colours so that I stand out in a sea of grey. And I’d add have a goal in mind at the start of every meet up whether it’s to chat further with someone you met previously, whether it’s to arrange at least one post-event meet up or whether it’s simply to step out of your comfort zone and present to the room, if that’s an opportunity that’s available to you.
And be realistic about your expectations. What I mean here goes deeper than just thinking about the end game. If you’re not the right person to be doing it from your organisation, and it’s better suited to someone else, then give them the opportunity. Networking is not for everyone, so I’d also say, if your time is better served delivering results at the coal face, rather than ignoring networking altogether, get someone else to do it for you. I’ve worked for clients networking on their behalf because it’s of more value to them that I go out and do their networking so that they can get on with the nitty gritty. So be realistic.
Yes, thanks, I enjoyed that, well done Liz what another great topic.
So, before we wrap up, we just want to say a big thank you for tuning in. We know there are loads of podcasts and webinars out there and we’ve specifically designed The Marketing Menu to offer practical, accessible marketing ideas that you can put into practice. So, we’re very excited that you’ve chosen to tune in and we really hope that some of what we’ve shared today resonates with you and allows you to make real business changes. Let us know how you get on.
Yes, so tune in again on Wednesday 17th May when we’ll be looking at some interesting and relevant marketing questions that listeners have sent in. Thanks guys, so this is a goodbye from me, Nicky Matthews, until next time.
And me, Liz Gordon, goodbye.
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