Salespeople are funny – real funny.
Especially those in the financial services industry. (Financial advisors are particularly hysterical.)
Why? Because even after completing a program where they’re primed on the rules of networking, many forget (or somehow haven’t yet realized) that networking and selling are two completely different things. Then again, maybe it’s me.
Here is one question an advisor sent me after a lot of back and forth via email and several coaching sessions on the concept of networking. It’s a question I get a lot in my networking seminars – usually from the funny ones who struggle with networking.
“The last few days, I have been introduced to people along the way,” this advisor began. “Sometimes it is only an hour lunch or over drinks. More often than not, I try to create an impression. I look them up on Facebook and email them. The conversation doesn’t seem to go anywhere until I find a hobby or something in common personally or professionally. How do you suggest I continue to touch base and try to secure a selling appointment?”
So what’s the joke? Financial advisors are notorious for looking for ways to transform a networking situation into a selling situation. (A buying situation is something else.) Isn’t this the exact stereotype and expectation that people have when they encounter financial advisors – uh oh, what are you going to sell me?
Here’s the punch line: Networking is about learning from and potentially helping people – not setting up sales appointments or creating an opportunity to sell a product or service.
But seriously, folks – given the questions above, here are some not-so-funny reminders of what to ask yourself to keep contacts you meet from laughing at you rather than with you.
‘What is the purpose of the introduction?’
The purpose of the introduction sets the tone for the whole conversation. Think about it: If a friend introduces you to someone because you both like to play golf, it’s much different than if you were introduced to someone who’s in the market for life insurance.
I’m not saying that you can’t or shouldn’t transition the conversation from your favorite golf course to business. Naturally you can. But there is a right way and a wrong way to make that transition.
- The wrong way: “So, do you have a financial advisor? Do you have life insurance?”
- The right way: “What kind of work do you do? How did you get into that line of work?”
I have found that the best conversations are always about the other person – not about you. Since you brought up work, they may very well ask about your line of work (because you established a different tone), which is great. Then, you can tell them about the type of work you do and with whom. Much different, right?