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Forget Networking, Start Connecting

Were you ever wondering if participating in networking events makes any sense? You shared dozens of business cards and nothing happened? Here’s how you can connect with the right people.

Axel Rittershaus

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Entrepreneurs attend events. It’s what we do. We network. But how often do you actually get the response you are looking for? How often have you been to an event and seen one or two people who were different? They seemed to know everyone, got in touch with most people, and still were looking professional and fun at the same time. You were wondering which special talent they have that you might lack.

There is no special talent needed! It’s the way these folks approach such an event that makes the difference.  It’s the “Connector” approach.

Connectors vs networkers

The old fashioned “Networker” approach:

  • Get in touch with as many potentials clients as possible
  • Talk about your business all the time
  • Figure out how you can sell your stuff to the person in front of you
  • Run away from people after 30 seconds, if they don’t seem to be potential clients

This behaviour tells people that you are just on the hunt. At future events, they will probably avoid you. You’ve just lost a great potential connection.

What are the attributes of a “Connector?”

  • A connector brings together people who did not know each other
  • They don’t talk to people to sell their own stuff, they’re talking to them because they’re genuinely interested in other people – and in increasing their network
  • They keep in touch with all the people they have met, even if it’s just a postcard for Christmas and most definitely birthday greetings

Most important:

  • The connector knows that a person who doesn’t need them right now might become a great customer at a later stage. If they establish a relationship and trust right now, they will call them (!) when they need them.  And they will refer them to their contacts, even if they never did business with them!

I know a guy called Marc who runs huge workshops (200+ people or so) in many African countries. He’s very good in connecting. He recently signed up a new client who was referred to him by another organisation he was in contact with, but did not work for yet.

That’s what you should be aiming for. Isn’t that a priceless sales force?

How do you become a Connector?

If you get in touch with somebody, you should listen actively and pay special attention to these topics:

  • What is he looking for?
  • What does she think about the event both of you are attending?
  • What business is she dealing with every day
  • What issue does he have to get solved?

Forget your sales pitch. Listen.

But you’re not done yet. Now the magic of Connectors unfolds by asking one of these key questions:

  • “Is there anybody you’d like to meet? Maybe I can introduce you to that person.”
  • “What exactly are you looking for? I can ask some of my contacts if they can assist you.”
  • “I think I know somebody you might want to talk to, since he had a similar situation to solve.”

How often do you meet a person and she offers her help in bringing you together with someone else? Without charging for it? You see. That’s the reason why these questions are so powerful.

By doing so, you are “paying forward.” You’re giving, without expecting an immediate return. But the return will be there one day! For sure! And the return might not even come directly from the person you were helping.

By the way: You really have to mean it. You have to be able to connect this person with a valuable contact or at least give it a try. Otherwise, it won’t work and you might get the image of a con man.

How does a Connector handle a sales opportunity?

If the person you are talking with is looking for something you can deliver, you don’t need to hide. Mention some clients where you solved that problem already. You don’t need to say how great you are – you should rather quote some outstanding comments from your clients. This will make the person curious. Don’t oversell, create curiosity.

Share business cards and tell them that you will call them. Call them the following day and continue the conversation. And before you leave the person at the event, make her smile – and she will remember you!

Look at it this way:

“When you meet someone, don’t think about what the person can do for you. Think about what you can do for them personally. And in the end, all of you will be the winners.”

Now it’s your turn.  Start connecting. You might enjoy it.

PS: Whenever you introduce a person to someone you already know, use a charming attribute to describe your new friend like “outstanding,” “remarkable,” “funny,” “great,” “leading,” “very good.” People like to hear nice words about themselves – but you have to mean it!

PPS: This is not only valid for networking events. Every conversation, every contact should be treated this way.

Axel Rittershaus is an internationally renowned C-Level / Executive Coach & Author who started as an entrepreneur in the IT industry in 1993. He knows that success is the result of hard work and determination even more than innate talent. A master of maintaining focus and follow-through, Axel supports C-Level leaders globally in achieving goals. Axel is dedicated and passionate to see clients succeed beyond their expectations. Axel is also the president of the International Coach Federation South Africa and a multiple Two Oceans and Comrades finisher. You can follow him on twitter.

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Networking

Why I Never Meet Someone For Coffee

The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.

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First off, I need to make clear that I am not against meeting people for coffee or even drinking coffee. My issue is that I’ve learned that the offer to go get coffee usually means that somebody wants something from me. Whether it is time, money or to help them make a connection, an offer to grab a drink almost always has some ulterior motive behind it.

You might think that I flat out don’t want to help others, but the real issue is the other opportunities that I have in front of me. I have a lot on my plate, so dedicating the time to a “quick” coffee meeting does not make much sense.

Related: Starbucks Coffee Is All About Culture… For A Reason

Say no to getting coffee

Hours spent in the office doing business are not the time to sit back, relax or socialise. I try to be as efficient, effective and statistically successful as possible during work hours (and beyond). The conventional offer of “getting coffee” is, in my opinion, one of the most frustrating offers that can be made.

I rarely take anyone up on the offer to “do lunch” during work hours. Just consider the amount of time that it takes to get to and from a coffee or lunch meeting, and how much business could be done in that same time.

Then, think about the inefficiencies of utilising that time for things such as small talk, even before you get to the critical business issue.

Have an objective in mind

I have the objective to try and keep every phone call to a maximum of five minutes. When it comes to in-person meetings, I prefer them to take place at my office or overlapping other meetings I have outside the office, which I call “holding court.”

Even then, I try to keep those meetings to 20 minutes long. This allows me to fit in as many meetings or calls as possible. So many people make the excuse that they are “doing business” and then leave the office to do unimportant things, or overlap their meetings around errands.

Make no mistake, I’m not advising against meeting people in person. I’m saying take control of the business opportunity and have them come to you, or meet them somewhere convenient when you are outside of the office.

Related: 5 Ways That Coffee Affects Productivity

No coffee, just grind

The majority of lunch and coffee meetings that take place are nothing but an inefficient use of time. I would suggest not only rejecting such meetings during work hours, but to also stop asking for coffee meetings unless they’re absolutely necessary.

How do you determine whether or not a meeting is necessary? Take a look at the reasons and impacts the meeting can have. If these outweigh the potential drawbacks of an in-person meeting, then it is acceptable to ask. Make sure that you focus on making efficiency a key principle when chasing your objectives.

Stay focused in on critical business issues and you will find that focus will provide you with everything you desire in business and life.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Great Places To Take Your Clients When Networking

Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.

Jeff Broth

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Do you live in South Africa and work at a job that entails taking clients out while networking? Are you tired of doing the same activities over and over? Are you hoping to make a lasting impression on your client? Maybe you are trying to woo a new client? If that’s the case, you’re going to want to read on and check out these great places that are ideal for taking your clients to.

Introduce Them to Casino Action and Fun

There’s no better way to make a splash with your clients than by taking them to one of the many casinos found in South Africa. Between the cities of Cape Town, Durban, Johannesburg, Queenstown, Pretoria, and Sun City there are more than 15 casinos to check out. Casinos offer a light and fun atmosphere that is perfect for letting loose. At the same time, they aren’t too loud, which means you can go ahead and sneak in a little shop talk.

Related: The Top 10 Behaviours To Avoid When Networking

Besides the casinos, you can also take your clients to horse races and even bingo. If the casino action is a big hit with them, be sure to let them know there are a large amount of South African online casinos that offer all the same types of games, plus a whole lot more.

Enjoy a Sports Game

sports-ground

Professional sports events are another fabulous spot to take your clients. You get that laid back casual atmosphere that allows you to stray from the traditional business attire, it’s a chance to get out of the office, and you can introduce your client to your own home team.

South Africa is well-known around the world for its love of sports. Among the most popular are rugby, cricket, and soccer. If you want to take them to the most popular sport in the country, however, soccer is the clear winner. Loftus Versveld and Ellis Park are two stadiums that are known to draw in some very rowdy crowds. Just be sure to get your tickets well in advance so you don’t end up disappointing your client.

Share the Local Cuisine

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking your client out for a meal, this particular option tends to be over-done. In order to make yours a memorable experience, skip the chain restaurants and typical locations and instead introduce your client to local and authentic cuisine. These are the places the tourists don’t tend to visit, but the locals know all about.

Plan an Adventure Tour

paragliding

Before you go ahead and choose this option, it’s a good idea to learn as much as possible about your client in advance. Not everyone is up to adventure activities, so you want to be sure you don’t put them in an uncomfortable position.

Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking

If you’ve got the green light, however, there are all kinds of activities you can take part in. Adventures can include a private helicopter tour, paragliding, zip-lining, a shark watching tour, a private surfing lesson, whale watching, kayaking, a sightseeing tour (by bus, car, or foot), bicycling, hiking, snorkelling, horseback riding on the beach, or even High Tea in Cape Town.

All of these ideas are unique and memorable so you know the visit will leave a lasting impression in your client’s mind.

Don’t Be Afraid to Think Outside the Box

When it comes to entertaining your clients while you spend time networking, there is absolutely nothing wrong with thinking outside the box. Coming up with unique ideas is sure to leave that lasting impression in their mind, which is exactly what you are striving for.

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Networking

The Top 10 Behaviours To Avoid When Networking

There are some things that you should and should not do while networking – it’s important to know the difference.

Ivan Misner

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In this video, Entrepreneur Network partner Ivan Misner goes over the 10 behaviours that you should not exhibit in a networking group.

Sharing your problems and grievances with fellow networkers and guests is not a good idea while meeting and socialising with others in the group. Winging presentations, being late and using your phone are other things to avoid, too.

Networking is key to the success of a company. In fact, a single referral source can bring a chain reaction of new business to your company. That’s why it’s vital to make your time and efforts worthwhile in networking groups.

Related: Proactive Networking – Your Network Is Your Net Worth

Success in these groups will happen when the rest of the group members trust enough to open up their best referrals. That’s why it’s vital to avoid these behaviours and demonstrate professionalism.

To learn more, click play.

Related: 3 Practical Tips To Nail Networking

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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