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  • Diana Schneidman

Why live networking feels so uncomfortable and what to do about it

Do you have issues with live networking? All that effort for such meager results?

You’ve extensively brainstormed with friends to develop long, stress-inducing lists of groups to visit. The networking dartboard has many targets, but there’s nothing precisely in the bull’s eye. Furthermore, once you identify a group that could be in the center, you don’t know what to say to the people you meet that doesn’t feel manipulative, even yucky.

The solution

There are so many live groups in your community, as well as LinkedIn, Facebook, and other online groups, that are relevant, but few are ideal. Don’t rush into ones that don’t feel right. If you attend once and there is no chemistry, they probably are not your perfect audience. You may wish to give it one more try. Or simply don’t go back! Give yourself permission to trust your gut.

Save your energy for people who are your right audience in terms of their work, service needs, demographics, etc.

Be picky! Your time is limited, and your energy needs the lift you get from connecting with the right people. Work smart, not frenetically.

What to say

Lots of experts say we need sticky elevator speeches that arouse great interest.

True . . . but only for some specialties.

“Juicy” elevator speeches work well for coaches, especially personal coaches, but not so well for corporate people looking for a certain type of easily-understood service.

Here’s why:

No one is in the market for coaching per se. They want the personalized solutions that coaching may provide, such as a happier outlook on life, weight loss, or finding a soulmate.

However, those of us providing corporate services, such as writing or marketing support, don’t require an enchanting offer to lure clients. They already understand the benefits of effective copy or a new website or social media management.

You can best engage these prospects by relating to them personally. This means starting a conversation, not launching your monologue. Get them to talk about themselves and their service needs.

Ask questions: What would your perfect workday be like? Do you need help? Are you overworked? Do you have a website? How is it working for you? How would you like to improve it? Do you have a blog? Have you thought of hiring a freelancer?

In other words, get them talking about their work needs and dreams rather than dominating the conversation with we, us and I.

This initiates a much more positive conversation with prospects.

What to offer

Start to develop a relationship instead of a sale. Offer the people you meet something helpful and free. Maybe they would appreciate a phone conversation or follow-up meeting at which you could give them free advice.

When my solution is my book, Real Skills, Real Income, I offer a free PDF and suggest they post a book review on Amazon if they like it. I can also offer to put them on my newsletter list at no charge. (I used to try to sell the book, which didn’t feel right.)

This feels much better than trying to get them to buy the book.

The gift doesn’t have to be a book. It can be a free report or that free meeting.

Note that a free consult is a better gift if implementation is a substantial part of your business. If you implement for clients, you can’t possible give away the store for free.

Your next step . . . or not?

If in-person networking feels disgusting, something is wrong. You have the wrong audience or the wrong product / service or a pushy sales message that makes you cringe inside.

Get in touch with what aspect of the whole thing feels off to you.

Go slow. You want to find a networking group with which you can build a relationship over time for the benefit of both you and your market, not set yourself up for experiences that sour you on networking and make you want to hide out at home.

Originally posted 12-9-15

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