Do any of you go to other business events? Mixers? Open houses? This can even apply with social events too. You want to get business, you want to increase your VCP (Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability). You want people to like you, because we do business with people we know, like and trust. To do that, you have to talk to people. What not to do:
- Don’t be a bore.
- Don’t ask veiled qualifying questions.
- Don’t push your business with horror stories or shock value, or act like a shark. Don’t run a conversation like:
- You: Going on vacation?
Victim: Yes, I’m flying to Mexico to do some fishing.
You: What? What if the plane crashes? What if you get killed? Do you have insurance? Do you have a will? Will your next of kin need a home renovation done? What if your paint peels? Or your windows get dirty? Or your ink dries out?
No. You do not want to do it that way. What should you do? Ask questions. Encourage people to talk about themselves as it relates to their business. Remember you aren’t hunting. The goal isn’t to hit a new client over the head and drag him back to the cave. You are farming, you want to nurture the relationship so you can follow up later and build a mutual referral network with the person. You want to ask questions that show a genuine interest in the other person and the business. Some of these questions focus on how the businessperson gets clients, and can therefore help you make referrals, so keep your ear out for referral opportunities. These are questions that people aren’t usually asked. Questions like:
- How long have you been in business?
- What made you want to start up this business, OR What got you started in this industry?
- What kind of clients do you typically work with?
- Where is your business located?
- What is your geographic coverage?
- What do you like best about what you do? This helps keep the conversation going, as you find out more about the business, the person’s likes, and experience. You may be asked the same question, so be prepared with a good answer.
- What are some of your biggest challenges? You may learn about the dreams, passion and motivation for being in business.
- Where else do you usually network? This will tell you who else the person could be connected with, and provide you with good tips.
- What can I do to help? This last question shows that you have the other person’s interests in mind, and is an excellent way to build the credibility and trust that you will need.
These questions will make you memorable, because they are rarely asked. They will make you credible and start to build trust because they show your genuine interest in the other person. This puts you on your way to building a profitable referral relationship.
Details/background/resources: Networking Like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections, co-authorded by Dr. Ivan Misner.