by Guest blogger David Coblitz – The St. Louis Artographer for the PhotoBizCoach
Ever go to a business networking event and meet someone, but have an uneasy feeling about promoting yourself to the people you meet there? This is a great instinct to have, since doing that would be the wrong approach and would likely turn them off. So let’s talk a bit about what you do when you meet someone like that, and how you build the network to take advantage of the opportunity to help both them and another networking partner of yours. You’ve probably heard you’re supposed to have a 30 second elevator speech that lets people know who you are & what you do, but how/when do you use it? Here are some ways to think about these situations that should help you be both more comfortable and more effective.
Many people have a negative feeling about selling or being sold to, so the first thing to realize is that you’re not selling, you’re serving. As soon as you adopt that mind set, networking will become much easier for you and more appreciated by the people you meet.
So what is your goal when you meet someone for the first time? It is to LEARN about them! Here’s a game for you to play. If they ask about you, see how fast you can turn the conversation back to them. Focus on who they are, what they do, and then try to find out what problems they have. Don’t worry at all about whether their problems relate to what you do. Chances are they won’t. That’s good. What you want to do is think about whom else in your business or personal network can help them with whatever their top of mind problem is at that moment. They will appreciate this far more than “I’m a great photographer. What do you need photographed?” Your goal is to be a resource for them by connecting them to people whom you know who can help them. If when you’re done doing that, they don’t get a bit curious about who you are & what you do, then so be it. They may not become a great networking partner for you, but you’ll have done yourself no harm & them some good & you won’t feel like a salesman. By the way, if the person you connect them with happens to mention how great you are at what you do (because it’s someone with whom you already have a trusting relationship) this will not set off the “sales pitch” alarm bells that it would if you were doing that yourself. Since you connected them to this person who they can help, they just might appreciate that & want to help you out as well.
You’re not selling yourself, since when you’re networking properly, you’re selling your networking partners rather than yourself, but also vice versa. This is much easier & more believable. Next month we’ll talk about what this ideal networking partner relationship looks like in more detail. Happy networking!
David Coblitz – www.CoblitzPhotographicArts.com
Of course! It all seems so simple now! I’ve been avoiding networking possibilities forever precisely because I don’t want to sound – or feel – like a saleswoman. Plus, like many creatives, I don’t enjoy “tooting my own horn”. I’d rather let my work do the talking. Unfortunately, of course, people need to know about my work first, and then they have to want to see it, and how does that happen? Networking. Thanks.
Thank you so much for this. i freeze up majorly when i meet in a group and have so much trouble promoting myself. It took me a long time to believe i had anything to offer and with a lot of encouragement, i realize that i do some really beautiful work….i just have trouble letting people know. This is so helpful to me, and very much appreciated! 🙂
I totally understand the concept here, but what do you do when you’ve just moved to a new town and you don’t know anyone to refer them to if they have a problem or situation?
Durango, What you do in that case is look at my first few articles here & they will tell you where to find business networking events to attend. Then start meeting people & getting to know them. You will soon have a cadre of people you can refer potential clients to. Prior to doing so, have a few one to one (121) meetings with your new referral partners to get to know each other, then build visibility, credibility, and trust with them. Then you can have another 121 & truly start to plan with them how to market each other more specifically. Hope this helps.