If you’re in a business that is dependent on people—and most of us are—you must meet people.
These days there are a million ways to connect with people: you can go to networking events, you can engage in email marketing, you can join one or more business groups or professional associations, and you can certainly connect with all kinds of people via social media. However, before you start this flurry of activity, you must decide what your intentions are.
Are you planning to attend events in hopes of selling your product on the spot or are you going to talk with a few select people to determine if you might be able to build a business relationship with them? If your intention is one of a transactional nature, its likely that everyone in the room will see right through you and they won’t want to see you again. Remember, people love to buy but they don’t want to be sold to. What does that really mean? People love to buy just about anything. This is exactly where the phrase “retail therapy” comes from. The caveat is that it has to be our idea. If we feel forced into a purchase, it doesn’t feel good and we end up with buyer’s remorse.
Attending an event ready to deliver the hard sell will get your nowhere fast and you’d better believe you’ll be talked about after you’re gone.
The flip side of that is attending an event with the intention of meeting a few people you’d like to get to know better. It might be as something as simple as exchanging cards with someone and arranging to get coffee at a later date. It might be inviting a new friend to the next networking event you are attending. What it isn’t is “in your face” selling or recruiting.
Think of it this way, imagine a hunter running in to an event waving a weapon and “going for the kill.” It’s a little scary and probably not someone you’d want to do business with. Now imagine a farmer at an event. The farmer walks around looking for ways to help things grow. The farmer might open a curtain to let light in. The farmer might not event talk to many people as he’s sizing up the “growing conditions.” The approach is more relaxed and people seem drawn to the farmer because of the softer approach.
The bottom line is that you want folks to be drawn to you, not running away from you. A softer, relationship-building approach will help you to get there. Be the farmer. Don’t wear the overalls or the hat, but be the farmer.