For many years, I feared meeting prospective clients, but I’ve developed some strategies along the way to make it easier for myself. So, although you may feel nervous about networking, make an effort to approach business events with confidence and enthusiasm. Remember that everyone at the event is your prospective customer. Typically when attending an event, I surround myself with my existing clients even if they’re already engaged in conversations. A simple handshake, eye contact, or a friendly wave at close proximity will usually result in an introduction. And, what better way to have a warm lead than with an introduction from an existing client?
Experts claim that you should always wait for your prospect to ask for your business card, advice that I like to follow. This is a tricky area. Nobody likes a pushy sales person, so proceed with caution. Developing a solid personal rapport with the prospect in the initial meeting is key. Here are some simple steps for your initial encounter:
1. Don’t ask for a business card. Let them ask first.
2. Make the initial business meeting social and personable. Get to know your potential client first. Don’t try to sell anything in your initial meeting.
3. When asked “What do you do?” make it short and simple, don’t go for the kill. Provide them with small details about your occupation without aiming to make a direct sales pitch.
4. Then say, “And what do you do?” This will help you determine whether there is compatibility between your services and their needs. If you see a promising business relationship, proceed to the following steps.
5. Follow up the same day with a handwritten note, specifying what you learned about them during your meeting. When they receive the note via snail mail in a couple of days, they will be very impressed!
6. Within a few days, you will most likely receive an email or call from your prospect. This is no longer a warm lead, but a hot one.
7. Three to four days later–or a week prior to the next business event–issue them an invitation. If you feel that they are a hot prospect, not only invite them, but pay for their entrance. Sit next to them and help them to feel welcome and at ease. By this time, your prospect will feel very comfortable with you, to the point where you can talk business.