Tell me if this scenario sounds at all familiar?
While attending a professional networking event, you find yourself face to face with someone in “sales.” Granted everyone in the room is in sales and/or marketing, but this particular person is truly in a class all by themselves – strictly to sell. You can feel it when they look at you, they see only a selling opportunity, and nothing else. They are too quick to ask you for your business right from the get go. You begin to throw out objections like “I’m really not interested” or “I’m happy with my current provider,” but they act like they didn’t hear you and continue on with their one-sided conversation. Just to stop this person you reluctantly accept their business card and hand over yours (because they asked for it), so you can escape.
Makes you cringe, doesn’t it? I’m sure that at one point in your career you met someone just like that. Now let me ask you another question, did you ever accept their phone call, reply to their email, or even meet with them after that initial encounter. I’m willing to bet that you did not.
For me, I choose to connect with others versus network. I want to take the time to get to know someone because I actually care about them as an individual. The person that I connect with will share information about themselves, both professionally and personally. Getting to know them will remove the stigma associated with “selling.”
Bypassing the step of connecting almost guarantees that there will not be a “sale.” In fact, I believe most people would find bypassing that step to be offensive because they feel used. A complete disconnect in the professional world is really not professional at all.
We want to feel valued, important, and worth the time to get to know – regardless of whether or not potential business can be generated. For in reality, referral marketing goes much deeper than strictly between the two professionals who have connected with each other. Referral marketing will extend to the 300-500 people that professionals knows. And because that professional feels valued by YOU, YOU have created a lot of future opportunities.
Keep it personal.