I went to a networking event a couple nights ago. I knew walking in that the likelihood of picking up a high-paying speaking gig from this event was incredibly low. In fact, the idea that I would be able to pick up any speaking gigs from this event never really entered my mind. I went for one reason, to strengthen my network.
A lot of people have told me over the years that they hate networking events. They never meet anyone who wants to buy from them. Those people, like most people at these events are missing the point.
I bet if you asked a room full of people at a networking event how many were hoping to sell someone, every hand would go up. Then if you asked how many were there to buy something, not a hand would be raised. In fact, I know this is true. A buddy of mine asked those very questions while giving a keynote at a networking event. What he said next was advice I have never forgotten…
“The first one of you ‘sellers’ who changes his or her mindset into being a ‘buyer’ will be the most successful person at this event.”
He wasn’t telling you to actually buy someone’s services, but instead to listen to what they have to offer. Most of us are polite enough to hear someone else’s sales pitch, but we aren’t really listening, just waiting for the moment to jump in with our own pitch. If you go in with the mindset of a buyer, however, you are actively listening and actively thinking through your own databank of people you know who might need this service.
You take that approach and three things will happen…
- You will strengthen and enhance your own listening skills which will help you no matter what you’re selling.
- You will connect a person you know with a service they need. That’s always a good thing.
- You will earn some reciprocity. As soon as you refer someone to a business contact, that business contact will be looking for ways to repay you.
That’s how Networking is supposed to work. Don’t turn your nose up at the next Chamber outing. Try taking a different approach. Try being a buyer in a sea of sellers. It is not only more effective, it is a heck of a lot more fun.
PS I only met two new people at the event, but more importantly I reconnected with a lot of people and got up-to-date on what was happening in their businesses. I’ve already made a couple referrals heading their way.