Find yourself tongue-tied when discussing contracts? Wondering what networking is about, anyway?
The American B2B marketing and e-newsletter expert, Michael Katz (author of the seminal book, E-Newsletters that Work), has shared some great tips on how to quell such anxieties, by showing you how to network effectively.
Especially if you are a service company, Katz writes, you should engage closely with your prospects. Try to avoid sharing merely a fairweather “hello,” or a vague statement of “interest” in your prospect’s business, offered passively over a glass of Pino and appies.
Katz recommends asking the following questions to better engage your prospects and to appreciate their pain points. Their responses should tell you whether their problems or ideas can be addressed by your services:
- So what is the challenge or problem that your company is facing?
- And how long has it been a challenge?
- What steps have you taken to solve or address it?
- Why do you think that now’s the time to bring in external help, like me?
Try asking these questions and listening closely to the responses you get. This inquiry will take you to the heart of your prospects’ issues and thereby demonstrate quickly the usefulness of focused networking conversations.
When you ask these questions, good prospects should respond openly and tell you if they have a promising project to discuss further (by phone or over coffee), or if they’re pools of quicksand to avoid!
The conversation these questions spark should take some time — eight to 10 minutes at least if you acknowledge and respond to their thoughts and explanations. But know that this process is well worth your time: Such candid conversation is GOLD! By investing such time and energy upfront, you’ll save yourself far greater troubles down the road (e.g. all kinds of mutual misunderstanding and the hassle of “telephone (text and email) tag”).
Katz also says never to seek work desperately, even if you feel you really need it.
Instead, weigh in your own mind the responses that your prospects give, so as to consider what the project is really about and whether it’s something you can achieve.
Do you struggle to have quality, insightful conversations when networking? Give Katz’s four question model a try. And let me know how it helps you to differentiate good opportunities from the rest.