Make better connections with real conversations. For years we’ve been told to recite what it is we do in 30 seconds in effort to catch someone’s attention, attract potential clients and believe it or not, make a sale. Although we acknowledge that business relationships take time to develop, we continue to “pitch” our products and services to anyone who will lend an ear.
Someone once said, “People don’t buy products and services, they buy trust.” Potential clients need to feel a sense of trust before they will ever engage you for your product or services.
Long-term professional relationships have always been built on personal connections. Before you can get to trust, you have to connect on a very basic and human level. You essentially put the cart before the horse when you offer your services without ever being asked for your assistance.
The next time you feel inclined to “pitch” someone, stop and think about the following:
- Never jump into sales mode or take the person you whom you are speaking with on your ego trip. Keep the conversation natural and casual. Networking conversations are really introductory conversations. They are the perfect time and place for you to discover what you have in common.
- Ask questions and if you forget what to talk about, remember F.O.R.D. Friends and Family, Occupation, Recreation and Dreams. Ask questions related to any of these areas to not only find out what you may have in common, but you may discover unmet needs or ways you may be able to help later.
- Do your homework. Don’t just take someone’s business card and flood him or her with emails or expect them to call you. Search out their name and company on the Internet and see what they’ve been up to. What is going on in their industry or region? What other things do you have in common? Do you share a target market? Do you share some of the same connections? Are your products and/or services complimentary? What else have you discovered that you can build on?
Social networking should be just that, social. Ditch your pitch. Stop ambushing people with your cards (unless they ASK for one). Idle chitchat can lead to powerful conversations, but business relationships aren’t built over night. Save the professional interrogations for a time and place after you have taken some time to get to know someone.
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A.Michelle Blakeley is the Founder and CEO of Simplicity, Inc.; a progressive small business development firm. She manages her clients’ business expectations and prevents information overload via Micro Business Therapy™ and Micro Business Action Plans. She is featured in Forbes.com and the Financial Post as one of 30 Women Entrepreneurs to Follow on Twitter, contributor for the San Francisco Examiner and Fearless Woman Magazine; the host of Simple Truths for Women Entrepreneurs on BlogTalkRadio.com and author of the NEW e-book: “Get it Right and Move Along… a collection of practical tips, tools and techniques for small business owners.”