Branding and positioning

How To Build Relationships When Networking

By Brennan Dunn

Hi, I’m Brennan. You don’t really know me — in fact, we sorta just met. But I’d like you to hire me, sign my contract, and send me a beefy deposit check. M’kay?

…And so goes the majority of our “sales” websites. Sure, we might spruce things up by including witty taglines and some smiling pictures of ourselves. And I’ll concede that the above is a gross oversimplification of what most of our websites actually say and do.

But the thing is, most of us focus on the singular transaction. “You’re not a client now, but I’m hoping tomorrow you will be.” Immediate gratification, if you will.

I argue that we should be focusing on the relationship. And I’m going to show you how building relationships can allow us to cultivate an audience of our own.

What if I told you that you could have a client faucet, that you could turn on and off on command? That when times were lean, you could turn on this faucet and book yourself solid?

I’ve put together a six part series detailing how to setup this client faucet. Here’s part one:

Real-world networking

I’ve never really enjoyed networking. And by networking, I mean wandering around the upper floor of a restaurant, beer in hand, attempting to impress people in suits with how edgy, high-tech, and smart I am.

For many of us, networking is just an excuse to pass out our business cards and shake hands. We think it’s a way to introduce ourselves and our offering to a group of people, with the ultimate hope that we stand out enough that someone emails you the next day about a project.

Whenever I approach someone new at a networking event, I try to guarantee the following:

  • I listen more than I speak
  • I ask questions that try to uproot the business problems this person has
  • I teach this person something of value to them that they can implement in their business starting tomorrow

Rather than trying to sell my services right away, I want to “sell” my expertise and authority.

(After a discussion with a marketer who’s dabbling with PPC ads…)
“Mary, it sounds like you’re sending your AdWords traffic to your company’s homepage. By setting up individual landing pages for each ad that spit back the actual language of the ad they clicked on, you’ll make it clear to the visitor that they’re at the right place, and significantly increase your chances of making a sale. Give it a shot and let me know how it goes. By the way, I have a newsletter where I send out free advice like this that I’ve learned from having helped lots of clients over the years — would you like to join?”

And this is where you take out your iPhone, open up the Mailchimp app, and tap “New Subscriber.” If your email marketing platform doesn’t have an app, you can send Mary an email on the spot and tell her you’ll promptly add her to your newsletter.

You’ll still give out a business card at the end of a chat, but you won’t be left in a stack with other business cards on Mary’s nightstand. Mary and you will have a relationship, centered around you educating and empowering her. Mary will have given you permission to keep teaching her something new.

In my next post, we’ll explore what to do now that Mary’s on your mailing list, and how — with cultivation — she can end up as one of your best, most valuable clients.