I was coaching a financial advisor not too long ago. He had a desire to create a training program to help other financial advisors grow their business through networking.
Since this is what I do for a living (you know, the whole coaching, training thing), he thought I could help him. In essence, I was training my competition, but what the heck.
This advisor was very focused on his business, his message, his approach. Finally, I asked him, “What are you going to actually teach advisors?” He said, “I want them to go to networking events, get to know people, ask questions and set up appointments with them. Then in those appointments, the advisor can sell their products.”
By the way, you can’t make this stuff up.
I said to him, “Here’s the problem. Most advisors and agents do that anyway. And what you’re describing is not business networking. It’s selling. The focus is on the sale, not the relationship. It’s one of the major reasons why most advisors and agents fail at growing their business in the first place.”
He was dumbfounded.
Selling and networking are two different sports, played in two different stadiums, at two different points in time. Both selling and networking are important but, they each have their time and place in the “sales cycle.” Networking events are not the time or place to sell.
Can you be successful at selling your products and services at networking events, chambers of commerce, association meetings, meet-ups, service groups, and online communities?
Sure, it happens. But there’s a big price to pay.
1. There is a conflict of interest
And I mean right off the bat! Those you meet at networking events are not there to invest their money, shop for life insurance, or buy your product or service. Unless they tell you they are. Which is pretty rare.
Those that attend events are looking to promote their own products and services. Imagine what it would be like if everyone at that networking mixer was simply there to sell their wares to one another. It would be chaos and wouldn’t be very much fun. In fact, there are networking events like that but they don’t tend to attract the most successful business people. I wonder why?
2. It de-values your business
Retirement planning, life insurance, annuities, long term care, mutual funds, property and casualty coverage, health insurance, supplemental benefits, and other related products and services are important. No question about it.
To promote, and ultimately sell, these services in good faith requires prospects and clients to trust you with very personal and private information. And it takes time to establish trust with those you meet, especially when it comes to something that’s so important, personal and expensive. Don’t de-value what you offer by not establishing a relationship first.
If you abuse your position at a networking event, not even the bad networkers will want to talk to you. (Photo: iStock)