Networking events are a great place to meet new people and mingle with potential clients. But you don’t have to wait for the next professional meet-up to harvest the opportunity of a lead. When you think about how many acquaintances you have, or have had throughout your professional life, imagine if you could turn just 10% of those people into paying customers – would it make a difference to your bank balance? I’m sensing a nod.
You see, sometimes we are blind to seeing opportunities that are standing right in front of us. Having the ability to recognise that a potential lead could come from anywhere is just as vital to running a successful business as building and maintaining our professional relationships.
So when you’re next face-to-face with a new associate, how do you turn that casual acquaintance into a long-term business relationship?
How ‘bout we make this thing official?
Be present and listen
Giving a person the courtesy of having your full attention shows more respect than anything else. When you actively listen to someone and hear what they have to say, you’re likely to discover more about them and distinguish the opportunities of your paths crossing. Find out what the person is currently working on, what they hope to achieve and what their challenges are. Only then will you be able to identify if and where your business can assist.
Like any human interaction, it is important to be yourself, friendly and approachable, rather than coming off ‘salesy’. After all, it is a trustworthy relationship you’re aiming to build.
It is important to follow up with your new acquaintance to continue the building the rapport. And by this we mean giving them a personal call or sending an email with a reference to your previous meeting. Unfortunately, adding someone as a Facebook friend only to interact with them merely by liking photos of their cute dog isn’t quite enough to pull in a lead (although we do like photos of cute dogs, please send yours to firstname.lastname@example.org).
Remember, the later you delay your next point of communication, the less likely you are to transform your acquaintance into a lead. So be active and follow up promptly.
Commit your time
It’s time to take your relationship to the next level and ask for a second date. Face-to-face interaction is proven to be a more successful way to generate leads than any type of behind-the-screen communication. It helps to build trust, nurture stronger rapports and puts you in a better position to have your acquaintances’ full attention.
People value their time, so suggest another meet-up and lock in a set time and place that is convenient for them. It will be hard for your rapport to fizzle out once they have pencilled you in their diary for a lunch next week!
Offer an exclusive deal
Once you have got to know your acquaintance, gained their trust and identified where they need assistance, it will be easier for you to provide your professional advice and trigger curiosity by proposing a simple solution to their problems.
People love receiving the special treatment, so why not offer an exclusive deal that is too good for them to turn down? Just remember to propose the offer as solving a problem, not selling a product.
Whether you finally introduce yourself to the guy you share an elevator with every day, or you pluck up the courage to approach a stranger at your next networking event, break out of your comfort zone, spark a conversation and find a common ground. You never know, you might just bag your next big lead!