Everyone knows that it’s important to spend time networking in the places where potential clients are likely to be. But sometimes that can cause real problems, if you arrive at a function in a selling mode while your potential clients are there with a totally different goal in mind.
Imagine, for example, a group of interior architects gathered to hear a winning project presentation. You show up at the presentation and try to sell them your new line of furniture. Not only won’t that be an effective sales technique, but your conversation with them may likely even build up a defensive wall.
One way to avoid such problems is by diversifying your networking category to include local community centers, non-profit organizations, academic institutions, etc. Your goal is not to make more sales, but simply to let more people know you and know what you do. You want to establish a good rapport, leave people with a good first impression and then keep in contact with them.
One day, one of their friends will need an interior design service, or their brother’s company will be looking to buy office furniture. The key question is, do they remember you well enough to make a referral? It depends on how well you maintain such a network acquaintance, but at the very least you want them to remember you and know that what you do.
The point here is, when building your network, the most important outcome is not how many people you know, but how many people know you and how willing they are to refer you.
Kitty Li President, LIK Group Westford, Mass.