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October 31, 2003

"Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family.
Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one."

-- Jane Howard, "Families"
When I was interviewing Bob Burg for the "Transform Your Networking Program" last week, I was reminded again that almost all of the marketing we do goes in absolutely the wrong direction.

Pay close attention to this one, because it can literally turn around your marketing from ineffective to effective overnight.

Imagine going to a networking event of some kind. You're hoping you can make some connections, generate some interest in your business, and perhaps collect a few cards to follow up with after the event.

But you're not too optimistic.

After all, you've done this dozens of times before and the whole process is not very productive. You meet a few people and have a few conversations. But even if you have a killer Audio Logo (attention-getting statement), most of those conversations still go nowhere.

It seems that everyone is selling, but nobody is buying.

So is networking a lost cause? Is it just a matter of chance that you'll bump into someone who needs your services? Is there any way you can generate business through networking?

The answer is no, unless you go in a completely different direction. The direction we're currently going in is trying to get some attention for ourselves. The new direction is taking the attention off ourselves and putting it on the other people who are attending the event.

In my interview Bob said, "The first thing we are going to do is take all the pressure off of ourselves by realizing that at this function, we are not going to talk about our business. Instead, we are going to focus on meeting some nice people, some good centers of influence. And we are going to focus on them and their business."

"So, not only is there going to be no pressure on us; there is going to be no pressure on the other person, and they are going to enjoy the conversation even more than you are going to enjoy the conversation."

See what a change of direction that is? But what do you do next?

"We want to focus on that other person by way of what I call 'feel-good questions', which are totally non-prospecting oriented. They are not intuitive. They are not invasive. These questions are going to totally relax this person and make them feel comfortable with you."

So once you've met someone at this function (and in the interview Bob goes into a great detail about how to do this in a relaxed, no-pressure way), you want to ask them some of these "feel-good questions":

"The first question I usually ask is, 'How did you get started in the widget business? Or insurance business?' Everybody is so wrapped up in themselves. So, when you, whom they just met, are asking them to share their story, wow; you right away take on some new importance in their life. They're going to spend a couple of minutes telling you about it."

"The next question I like to ask is another 'feel-good question.' That is, 'What do you enjoy most about what you do?' Now, why is this question so key? The reason is because it is strictly 'feel-good.' It's a positive question. It can only give them good feelings and elicit a positive response."

"Realize that they may not be even be a prospect for your business, depending upon what it is you sell. But they may know a lot of others who are."

"So, we've asked a couple of these questions, we've established a little rapport, and the person is enjoying the conversation. Now, it's time to ask what I call the 'one key question' that will separate you from just about everyone else that person knows, and definitely from everyone else this person has ever met for the first time."

"That question is simply this: 'How can I know if somebody I'm talking to would be a good prospect for you? I don't know much about what you do. It sounds fascinating. Tell me, how can I know if somebody I'm talking to would be a good prospect for you?"

In the interview, Bob goes on to discuss in great detail how going
in this completely different direction of "being interested" in those you meet (vs. trying to "be interesting" to those you meet) will enable you to initiate business relationships that are based on giving value, not on getting value.

Go to networking events focusing on this new direction of getting to know people, trying to help them, and connecting them with others, and you'll stand head and shoulders above all the other business people they know.

The result of all this is that people will get to know you, like you and trust you, as well as become more interested in your business. And although they may not be ideal potential clients for you, they all have friends and associates whom they will happily refer to you as the relationship builds.

It's time to stop going in the wrong direction. The good news is that the right direction, as outlined by Bob, is easier, more fun and much more effective for attracting clients.

(c) 2003 Robert Middleton, All rights reserved.

By Robert Middleton of Action Plan Marketing. Please visit Robert's web site at http://www.actionplan.com for additional marketing articles and resources on marketing for professional service businesses.
This week review and practice the Marketing Flashes on
"The Wrong Direction":

* Why do we automatically seem to go in the wrong direction with our marketing? It's not a mystery. We're trained to think, "What's in it for me?" We're essentially selfish beings. You need to proactively work against these impulses.

* People don't care about you, especially strangers. So why
do you think someone who has just met you is going to be intrigued by your business? It's not going to happen. But you can be "intentionally" intrigued by their business.

* The worst thing you can give to a potential client you just met is a brochure. That's about you, and remember, they're not interested in you. Instead, give them an article with ideas on solving problems that are of concern to them.

* Don't ask whom they can introduce you to. They don't know you well enough yet. Instead, be a connector yourself. Go out of your way to introduce the people you've met at a networking event with other business people whom they'll have some affinity with.

* Think of what you'd like to get from those you meet through networking, but don't wait to get those things. Change direction and work actively at providing those things yourself. Your business will never be the same.

Find out how you can be more successful in our 45 minute free coaching session.

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