I was inspired by a question asked of me by a financial advisor — a top producer at, well, a top producers meeting. (Always best to go to the top.)
“I belong to a networking group that has met once a week for the past four months,” the advisor asked me. “No sales yet. What could I be missing?”
It’s hard to say what is missing, since I’m not attending the events.
(Related: 12 Ways to Handle Awkward Business Networking Moments)
That said, I answered his question with a few more questions. (I’m funny like that.) Only he knows the answers — which led to yet another discussion.
If you’re a part of a business networking group, chamber, association, or whatever, ask yourself the following questions.
1. What is your definition of a referral?
The meaning of a referral is in the eye of the beholder. We use the word “referral” in a number of different contexts. I need a referral from my primary care physician. I need a referral to a good plumber — do you have his phone number?
2. Are you attending every meeting?
You can’t just show up to networking meetings when you feel like it. (I’m tempted to use the term willy-nilly.) You must be an active and frequent attendee in an effort to put your time in. And it’s way more than just being there — you have to participate. Contribute. Give of yourself. Get involved. Be a presence. A connector. Remember, it’s all about the relationship. If you focus on giving and developing relationships, the business will be there. And how can you focus on developing relationships if you’re not attending (and participating in) enough meetings?
3. Are you paying attention to other members of the group when they’re speaking?
If the meeting is structured and attendees get an opportunity to deliver a presentation (some groups offer 30 seconds or a minute to deliver a “commercial”), it’s time for you to take note (yes, literally take notes!) so you can potentially help. If you (and other members) are more focused on the bagels, coffee, and Facebook, there are missed opportunities — for everyone!
4. Are fellow members paying attention to you?
You can only expect this privilege if you pay attention to them. (See above.) That said, you must deliver a meaningful presentation (elevator speech or “commercial”) that is articulate, a bit entertaining, planned, focused, and with a call to action.
A good model I discuss often is the PEEC Statement — your Profession, Expertise, Environments (target market), and Call to Action (who you want to meet or be connected to). If you can do this and change it up slightly for every meeting, you’re on your way. HINT: Costumes, props, and the occasional poem work well!