I was at a networking event this morning sponsored by the Canton Chamber of Commerce. I enjoy being involved in the community, so as my schedule allows, I try to attend these events.
I also want to note that the event coordinator, Eric Smer, personally emailed to invite me. Goes to show the power of a simple email request, right? Is it time to re-connect with that previous client? A simple email may suffice.
I’m not particularly adept at cold-calling prospects, so this is yet another reason why I like networking events. It provides an opportunity to actually talk to real people about real subjects without the pressure of trying to sell sell sell! I’m a big fan of relationship marketing.
You should know the person before you engage in business with them.
The guest speaker for this morning gave some good tips on how to build that relationship, but then she said something that I thought was… interesting.
She said, don’t ask people “what do you do?”
I found this to be a bit odd, as this is usually one of my first questions. I’m inherently curious about what people do and how they make a living – so this is my go to question.
Her response was, “think of why you’re there. You’re trying to build relationships for the long haul. You’re trying to establish a rapport with someone before you sell them anything. You want to build a trust relationship.”
I agree with all of these statements, and yet I still think “what do you do?” is a valid and relevant question. You’re getting to the core about who they are and why they’re there. By asking them what they do (before you even think about spouting off what YOU do) – you are creating an environment for them to share openly about themselves.
Be genuinely curious about what others do. Listen. Carefully.
And within a few minutes, if you can’t see a way to help or connect them – you thank them for their time and move on.
It frees both of you up sooner rather than later to find a mutually beneficial connection.
We only have so many hours in the day and so many business cards to exchange. Wouldn’t you rather be spending that time and effort on someone who you can actually serve?
So go ahead, ask “what do you do?”
It’s a great way to get the conversation started.
Then the real work begins.