Confused Networking vs. Strategic Networking

Confused networking will lead to confusing results.  When you actually plan for your networking time, you will find that you have better results.

What do I mean by confused networking?

Well, confused networking happens in several ways.  First, you may be going to an event without knowing who else will be there, or what the topic of conversation will be, or what the common theme is that holds this particular “tribe” together.  You may have decided that you need or should go to this event because someone else suggested it.  But deep down, you really don’t know why you are going.  But go you will.  And you may walk around at the event feeling like you are out of place, out of synch, and certainly out of sorts.  And all of that contributes to the fact that you just don’t know what to say.  Which is the # 1 reason why people hate to go to Networking events.  They really don’t like the discomfort that comes from not knowing what to say.

Another way that confusion slips into networking is that many people don’t know how to talk about their businesses so other people will listen.  Many of these folks have not taken the time to know for certain who their best client is.  The clue to this kind of confusion is when they say very general things to describe their perfect client.  That might sound something like this, “Anyone with a backbone is a good client for me.”  Or perhaps, “Anyone with skin is a good client for me.”  This might sound cute and get a laugh or two … but it is not instructive enough to allow someone hearing this to realize who specifically could benefit from that person’s service or product.

My friend, Fred Gleeck, always says, “A confused mind ALWAYS says NO,” and in this case (well, in any case) I would agree.

Help people not be confused about what it is that you do, who you serve, and how you serve them.  Be specific when you talk about the types of clients you would like to have referred to you.

Here are some tips to help you cut down on this type of confusion:

  • Take a mental snapshot of your current clients
  • Sort out the ones who make your “heart sing” and add joy to your day
  • What in particular do you like about these clients?
  • What do they look like?  Where do they live?  Where do they work?
  • What pain do these clients typically feel?
  • How do they demonstrate that pain?
  • How do you solve their pain?
  • And what is the outcome of them either working with you or using your product?

When you can answer these questions for yourself, you’ve created a mini-profile of who your preferred or favorite customer is.  You can easily, then, let other people in on the secret of who you like to work with and who you would like more referrals to.  End of confusion regarding how people can help you and you are well on your way to improving the client flow in your business.

And, in case you are wondering how to clear up the first kind of confusion … about not knowing why you are at a particular event.  It’s called research.  When someone tells you that you really ought to check out this group or that organization, please consider asking some pointed questions.

Here are some to help you get started on understanding if a networking group is right for you:

  • What is the agenda for the event or how does the event flow?
  • What is the philosophy of the group?  What are the underlying reasons for this group to exist?
  • Are there rules or protocol that you should be aware of?
  • Are there guides in place to help a non-member or new person feel welcome?
  • Is information provided so you know what to expect, and how to participate?
  • Who typically attends these events?
  • Is it free style networking or structured networking?
  • Are non-members or guests allowed to participate or are they just observing?
  • Are there suggested strategies to assist you in having a good experience?
  • Who are the officers and/or volunteers?

When you get the answers to these and other questions that you may have, you can better decide where and when to get involved with building relationships that will increase your network.  Most of this information can be found online or by asking the person that told you about the event or the group.

Once you’ve done your personal research (who is my preferred client) and researched the group, you will have all the information you need to begin the conversations that will help people learn about you, get to know you, grow to like you, and ultimately come to trust you.

When you’ve taken these suggested steps, you will have eased or ended your own confusion which will prevent you from leaking confusion to others.  You will talk in very specific ways about who you serve and how you serve.  And networking karma will help to attract what you are looking for in more specific ways!

The truly sweet spot in all of this, is that when you get really clear about what you do, you begin to realize that you can also ask very specific questions of others to help draw out this same information from them.  Which then makes it really easy to have quality conversations anywhere you go.  And you’ll no longer worry about what to say for you will know the precise questions that will draw others out into enjoyable conversations with you.  For remember, people do business with people they know, like, and trust … and you are well on your way to all of that!

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