EJM Designs Limited Blog

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Networking: Do the 1-on-1

Often times, as a social media evangelist of sorts, I get the question: "Okay, so I'm on all these sites, but what now? Where is this all supposed to lead?" And because generally I hear this question at a networking event, my answer is "You're already here."

Social, online media has the unfortunately intuitive feel of something that is supposed to distance you from people. However, I always argue that the opposite is true: social media is a tool that you can use to extend your presence, enforce your branding, and - perhaps most importantly - get out there and meet people. You may have a killer product and great marketing plan, but without action, without shaking hands and interacting in the real world, you are but a cannonball without gunpowder.

So my comment about networking events being the end of that road, while appropriate, is not entirely accurate. Getting out there is great and if you're lucky you get a chance to pop a 30 second commercial and add awareness of your product and/or brand. But let's go one step further: The 1-on-1.

What's That?

Getting in front of 30 or 50 people and dropping spiel is the shotgun approach, and it works fine for getting a rough idea of what everyone in the group does. But some of those shots in the air should look to you like flares. How so?

For example, EJM Designs Limited is all about web design, SEO, and internet marketing. A great way for me to grow my business is to get to know people who run or work for collaborative enterprises, such as a public relations company who might not have a dedicated web person or a print company or a marketing company. But it doesn't have to be limited to those relationships.

I get ahead of myself. If someone has piqued your interest, simply approach them and see if there's a time to get a coffee or have lunch together to learn more about their business. If you're shy, don't worry too much about it. It's not a date. It's a business 1-on-1.

So What Happens Then?

You get together for lunch or coffee (I prefer coffee; not a huge fan of eating a meal while trying to have a discussion) and you talk about yourself and your business and the other person talks about their business and you see if there's any way to help each other out. The conversation is about trust and comfort while at the same time learning about the other person and their business. It generally takes about an hour and ends with a "Thank you" and a much fuller understanding of what that person does and how you can help.

In the way that a networking event is social, a 1-on-1 is personal. You're both investing time in understanding the other to develop a stronger business bond.

A Couple Tips

  • This is not a sales call - This is about building a business relationship, not selling your 1-on-1. There is no better way to turn OFF someone to being another champion voice for your cause than to push them into buying what you're selling

  • LISTEN. This is a two-way conversation. Another turn-off: someone who won't pause for a second to ask for feedback.

  • Ask questions - The only way to make sure you have a clear understanding of what that other person does.

  • Ask if they have any other questions - make sure they understand you.

  • When discussion your business, always mention your target customer or client, and ask about theirs if they don't.

And that's about all there is to it. Do this at least once a week and before you know it, you've got many, many advocates for you and your business and the growth will show for it. Just remember to offer yourself as a resource first, to focus on giving, and you'll be surprised at what can happen.

So what about you? Have you had a 1-on-1 recently? How did it work out for you? Do you have any questions if you haven't done this?

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