The following is a transcript (with modifications) of a radio interview, based on my upcoming workshop on ‘Business Networking Techniques’ 10 do’s & don’ts for an effective method of gaining both potential clients and strategic partners. My hostess is my good friend, Tammie Polk, The Virtuous Business Women.
The Virtuous Business Women Radio Show presents
I am absolutely excited and ecstatic to be back with you guys this morning. I’m really excited for the guest that I have today, Mrs. Gina Davis, who is a great, great friend of mine.
I’m getting everything going. Bear with me for just a moment. I am trying to find what I did with Gina’s bio.
What I can tell you about Gina is that she is definitely no nonsense when it comes to marketing and networking. Helping people to understand that it takes work, it takes effort, and that is what she has built her business around.
So I think I’ve actually found it. Here we go. Alright, Gina’s pitch is straight forward just as I said. Doesn’t want or give any nonsense and will tell it to you like it is. Yet she is driven to look at the end goal. Gina’s creative side is seen in many of her endeavors but the facts influence her the most. Not only does she think outside the box, she stands outside the box.
She says that “Everything I do is with the belief that you must show your client that you care. This continues to resonate with me, I believe that it is the cornerstone of business growth today.” So her mission is to work with people in business on their growth strategy by helping them set and achieve actionable goals, build customer recognition, foster loyalty and increase customer retention referral. Here today with the ten commandments of do’s and don’ts of business networking techniques.
Gina. Do I have you on the line?
Gina Davis: I’m here, can you hear me? Hello, Everybody! Glad to be here today!
Tammie Polk: I can! Welcome! So Gina, tell us a little bit more about your business and then let’s get right into those 10 do’s and don’t’s.
I’m a business and marketing coach and consultant. My niche is helping people to get and keep customers.
Customer retention and acquisition are a priority. I came from the background of establishing good customer retention techniques because your business will grow the most when your focus is on your existing customers. Retaining them and asking for referrals should be primary goals. When discussing marketing with my clients, this is the priority. Marketing has to help my clients grow their business.
Tammie: Ok, because the main point that I want to drive home today would be that a Virtuous Business Woman attends networking meetings, conferences, and different professional events that enhance both her personal self and her business offerings. So how does your top 10 commandments come into that? What are they and how do they work?
Gina: Can I share just a little bit of background before we jump into that?
Gina: I came into my current business with 20 years of sales and marketing. This was in the 70s, 80s, and the 90s when Marketing was old school. In the late 90’s I took some time off and homeschool my kids.
When I got back into the business (world), I started with a network of Zero. I have built that (my network) up using these 10 principles. These (do’s & don’ts) were the first things (business networking techniques), that I was introduced to. How to use this method to help me build a network of thousands.
I was introduced to them by two business colleague, several years ago. Sherry Motes, was running a networking meeting at the time. One of the first ones I ever attended, and she invited Kelly Price who runs ‘Networking in Memphis.’ He brought these techniques with him.
Afterward, all I could think was, “Oh my gosh, this is what I need to be doing, this is how I need to be doing it.”
I’m going to run through these 10 commandments really quick and then I’m going to tell you some stories.
- Number 1: Thou shalt drop the “What’s in it for me” attitude.
- Number 2: Thou shalt listen. We’ve heard this many times. We have 2 ears, 1 mouth. Shut up and let them talk.
- Number 3: Thou shalt build a relationship. This is what I’ve built my business on, building relationships.
- Number 4: Thou shalt give the first referral. Bend over backward – Givers Gain. You have to show them that you care. Even those that are a strategic partner.
- Number 5: Thou shalt not tell others of the referral you require, thou shalt show them with a story. If you just tell them “Hey I want plumbers.” They’re not going to remember that, but if you tell the story they’ll remember that. Story below.
- Number 6: Thou shalt be specific of the type of referral. Be as specific as possible. When you just say “Hey I need somebody in business” or “I need anyone that has a home” that’s not specific enough, I won’t remember that.
- Number 7: Thou shalt reciprocate when appropriate. This goes back to having a Givers Gain mentality. Help people when you can. Try to find some way to reciprocate. It doesn’t necessarily have to be referrals. It could be something else that they’re challenged with.
- Number 8: Thou shalt participate in the network executive functions and networking time. It’s important as business people that we are leaders in our community. Stepping into leadership positions puts you on the radar of those people that are the movers and the shakers. Those are people you want to know.
- Number 9: Thou shalt thank the person who gave a referral. If you don’t do give a ‘Thank You’ preferably a written one, you should just close your shop and go home.
- Number 10: Thou shalt follow up on the referrals within 24 hours. You lose creditability, both with the referral & referee when you don’t promptly follow-up
These 10 commandments of networking are smart and give you a step by step method to create your foundation for business networking techniques. Indeed these techniques have been my guide. I always strive to embody these network characterization. I think (NO! I know) that they’ve worked for me.
Tammie: They can ask questions on Facebook or if they’re going to the event page they can. (just add any questions in the comment on this page.)
Tammie: I ended up losing my feed here.
Gina: I’ve got a couple stories based on these networking techniques, I’d love to share. Can I go there now?
Tammie: Yes ma’am you can go right ahead.
Gina: Stories tell everything.
Story 1: You will see this time and time again. Regardless of how you are trying to grow your business, you need to tell stories.
When you are doing your elevator speech, you need to tell stories.
When you’re sitting down and giving a presentation, you need to tell a story.
Even when networking, people are going to remember you better, if you tell them a story. Therefore when people ask ‘Who is your target audience?’ Answer them with a story, just like this:
“I got started in the 80s and 90s working for my family business. We working with what I call the blue-collar entrepreneurs. He would typically put the piece of equipment that we manufactured in the back of his truck and he would go around and he would show it to people or clean something and he would try to sell it.”
That is going to resonate more with than me telling you “Oh I need a plumber” or I need a whatever it is.
Today because I do work a lot with trades people, this is one of my favorite stories. That person from my family business is just like a plumber. He knows his business. He knows what he’s doing. He’s typically one or two man truck. He’s out there talking his business. He is my target audience, a blue-collar entrepreneur.
Therefore you should be telling a story about who your referral is. It will get your point across more than just saying, Hey I need a plumber, that’s my target market.
Story 2: The next story is one I love to tell you. Adding humor, ‘can you believe this’ or ‘yeah that happened’ is another great way to get remember.
This story center’s around “What’s in it for me?” A ‘don’t technique’.
I was at one of my chamber meetings. I noticed this woman walking around the room and she was dropping a business card at every seat. This was a big meeting with 100 or more seats in the room. I quickly glanced at the card and saw it was NOT the sponsor of the day.
In my opinion, the sponsor of the day can walk around and do that. Nobody else should be doing that.
I always set an agenda when I go to the chamber. I wanna meet 2-5 people and get their business cards and make a connection.
When I got home I had a few more than 5 cards. Other people had introduced themselves and my stash grew. After I had returned home, I was going through my stash. I pulled an unfamiliar card out and thought “What the hell, I don’t remember who this person is!” She never introduced herself. Clearly, she was expecting just because she dropped off her card that I’d be interested in her business. That’s definitely a “What’s in it for me” attitude. It could be that she was not taught how to network or didn’t know how to network. Bottom line, she had known the 10 commandments she would have had the Givers Gain mentality and built her network based on “What can I help you with.”
She never introduced herself. Clearly, she was expecting just because she dropped off her card that I’d be interested in her business. That’s definitely a “What’s in it for me” attitude. It could be that she was not taught how to network or didn’t know how to network. Bottom line, she had known the 10 commandments she would have had the Givers Gain mentality and built her network based on “What can I help you with.”
Bottom line had she known the 10 commandments and built her business networking around these techniques. If she would have had the Givers Gain mentality and built her network based on “What can I help you with.” She would have made connections that day.
Tammie: Okay this good. Definitely, many people don’t think about when they’re networking. They come in with that “What’s in it for me” attitude and feel like if they don’t leave with a sale or if they don’t leave having made any money, then they think, “Oh it was a waste of my time.” One thing that I say in my book is you have to realize that your results will not always be immediate.
Gina: No. That’s what building your relationship is about.
Tammie: Right because when you go in with the mindset of, “What’s in it for me?” Then you walk out with nothing, per say, you’re going to feel like it was a waste of your time. In actuality, the reason why you’re feeling that way is you went in there with the wrong mindset and the wrong attitude.
Gina: And without any goals.
Tammie: Yes. With that thought in mind, if I’m going into a networking event; ‘What mindset should I have?’ ‘What goals should I have, going in? Because a lot of people don’t think about having goals, especially the right goals.
Gina: Right. Lot’s of people neglect to establish goals for their business networking.
Indeed they may have goals set for their business around getting leads. (Sadly 80% of small businesses do not set goals.) Establish on the front end that business networking is not about making the sale.
No one I know (even the best sales person) can make a sale in 2 – 10 minutes. They shouldn’t even try. If you keep trying to get a sale, then you become that metaphorically speaking person who is throwing up words all over you. That only makes me want to run in the other direction.
If you keep trying to get a sale, then you become that metaphorically speaking person who is throwing up words all over you. That only makes me want to run in the
Taking the standpoint, that it’s about making a connection, then really it becomes a network building exercise.
Set your primary goal, identify your sub-goals these should lead to more specific goals on the way to your final goal.
Networking goal example:
At August’s Chamber meeting, I want to connect with 2 strategic partners. (This is someone that wants the same target audience as I do but is not in direct competition.)
At August’s Chamber meeting, I want to connect with 2 business owners or people in sales that I haven’t met previously.
As a Marketing coach, I love connecting with other coaches because we are helping our clients grow their business. Sometimes their clients are going to have difficulties that as a Marketing coach I can assist them with and at times my client needs help that I can send to other coaches. CPA’s & Bookkeepers are also great strategic partners for me. They know when a client’s business is having difficulties and with my client’s I typically find out they don’t have this business advisor.
Here is a great tip: At most chambers, there are a lot of people that you don’t know and probably some you know. Sit by people you don’t know or leave an empty seat between you and people you know. You might luck out and have someone you don’t know sit between you.
This works really great tip for those introverts that want to attend these type of event. Also for those attending seminars and conferences that don’t typically have a networking segment.
Another great tip for those that have difficulty at network mixer and might be thinking, “Oh I can’t go in there by myself.” Or once inside “I can’t go over there and talk to them.”
Even I have had times in the past and even as recently as last week*, have found walking into a room of people where I don’t know anyone difficult.
If this is the case, I will arrive early and stand near the entrance, where people will most likely path by. This puts me in a strategic place where I can greet them as they walk in. Even though I’m not officially an ambassador of that function, I’m acting like one. It gives me the opportunity often be greeted and then the conversation can flow from there. Next, I have a few standard questions to get the conversation going.
My opening salvo, ‘Have you been here before?
If they are new to the function, then I continue with, ‘Who invited you?’ I want to see if we have a connection. Finding a connection leads to more conversation. Then if the conversation keeps going at that point then I might ask them, “Tell me a little bit about yourself, are you a longtime Memphian?” Eventually, you can segway into “Hey what do you do?” It’s about building the relationship.
For those people I know or if I found out it’s not their first time, I ask, ‘Are you here to networking, hear the topic or both?’
Another question I like to ask people I know, ‘What’s new going on in your business?’ or ‘What’s the biggest challenge you have right now?’ These questions open up for more conversation. Which should lead to building the relationship.
NEVER< NEVER ask anyone ‘How’s business?’ or ‘How is your business doing?’ or even ‘How are you?’ Especially with the business question, you are going to get the same answer, no matter their situation.
‘It’s Great, everything is fine.’ Almost with full certainty, it’s not. People will not tell you the first blush has worn off their business and the difficulties they are experiencing. Which effectively STOPS the conversation.
Gina, we are in the last four minutes. First, I want to say, ‘Thank you’. I was looking at those 10 commandments before I came on. I’m going to plaster those in a whole lot of places. If you could give us one big piece of advice, what would it be? Then let everyone know how people can find you.
Today, my advice is to focus on building relationships. My challenge to you is three-fold:
- Identify a networking event you will attend soon. Then identify a goal for that event, like I want to meet 5 people, I’ve never met. Get their contact information.
- At home, immediately send them an email. “Hey, it was really great to meet you, I don’t if it is relevant to have any further conversation, but what do you think about meeting for coffee?” -You have to ask for that next meeting at some point. Why not sooner than later.- if you would like help with writing your scripts for your follow up conversations, contact me for your complimentary consult.
- Next, mail out a handwritten note. I use SendOutCards as part of my follow-up strategy. Why? Emails get lost in that big email continuum in the sky. A mailed greeting card they open by hand is going to get seen. It’s great for staying top-of-mind and building that relationship.
I do whatever I can to connect with those people outside of the meeting so that I am continuing to building the relationship.
I work with clients that are looking for a better follow-up strategy, or business networking technique, those that need structure around their networking and other areas of their business. Plus I help them create a marketing plan for business growth.
Tammie: We are gonna close out here. Gina, I thank you.
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Gina: Thank you.
Afterwords: Business Networking Techniques 10 Do’s & Don’ts
I would love to hear about your business networking and/or building relationships. What techniques worked for you? Leave a comment below. Did you take me up on that challenge from above, I want to know how it went? Did you use some of my techniques – how did using them feel to you?
Let’s have a conversation, you can book a coaching or marketing assessment here or if you would like to do a 1-1 meeting, you can set up an appointment yourself with me, here.
*I am what’s called an extroverted introvert. Here are several great articles that describe this:
23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert – I never thought of whether I gain or lose energy by being around other people. It’s lose energy. I’m always so drained after a day of networking or having meetings.
Here is the replay of the Radio Show