When you’re at a business training or networking event, you’re probably there for two reasons:
1. To learn how to grow your business
2. To connect with potential clients, referral partners and teammates
In this article, I’m going to help you accomplish the second one, so you can get the greatest possible benefit out of every event you attend.
Here are three ways you can stand out and shine, be the star of the event room, and attract great people to your business:
#1: Don’t wait for permission to be yourself
A couple months before my first training event, I had a revelation that would drastically affect the results I got from the event.
I was on a ziplining tour, and I was the fastest and most energetic person there.
Even though I was tempted to sprint to the front of the group on the path from each zipline to the next, I self-consciously held myself back.
Nobody else seemed particularly eager to get to the front of the line, to go first, or even to sprint for the sake of sprinting. And yet, I hesitated, afraid to look selfish or like an attention-seeker, or even to stand out.
Then it suddenly occurred to me to ask myself: “Why am I worrying about this?
“Why am I holding back from doing what I want, when nobody’s given any indication that doing it would bother them?
“Why am I making decisions about other people’s preferences for them, instead of letting them decide what they do and don’t like?
“And even if it does bother them, but they aren’t brave enough or bothered enough to tell me, why am I making it my responsibility to guess what they’re thinking?”
There and then, I made a decision: I was going to do what made me happy, and if somebody else didn’t like it, it was their responsibility to tell me, and my responsibility to decide what to do about it.
As a result, when I went to the training event, I was able to show up as my full, vibrant self, not as a safe, toned-down mask. And I was surprised by how much people responded to that. They were drawn to me, impressed by the fearless and outgoing personality I displayed when I wasn’t trying to be perfectly unoffensive.
They even asked how I did it, and one woman was so moved by my story that she actually asked the event host if I could share it with the group.
That’s how powerful it is to show up as your full, authentic self. So put away the polished mask, do and be who and what you want, and don’t assume that it’s bothering anyone unless they explicitly say so.
#2: Use 5 key ingredients to good networking conversations
Remember, you aren’t there to sell. You’re there to learn, and to form relationships. So instead of focusing on getting the sale, and measuring your success by how many new clients you get, go to the event with the intention of learning about people and making connections with them.
Here are five things you should do in every conversation:
1. Connect with the other person. Find some common ground, whether it’s a shared interest, a common goal, or a challenge you both face. Also mirror their body language, because this subconsciously helps them to trust you.
2. Ask questions. People love to talk about themselves, and the more you give them an opportunity to do that, the more they’ll enjoy your company. Focusing on asking about them, instead of telling them about yourself and your product, also gives you an opportunity to learn what they need and why they want it, so you know how to make your offer when the time comes.
3. Acknowledge them. If you genuinely like, admire or appreciate something about them, let them know.
4. Serve them. If they’re struggling in an area with which you can help them, give them a bit of advice. Not enough to make it so that they don’t need to enroll with you, but enough to help with their immediate problem.
5. Give them a choice. If you feel that the two of you have a good connection, and it seems like they need your product, ask them to take the next step, whether it’s exchanging contact information, or setting an appointment to connect after the event.
#3: Be clear on what you offer and to whom
When you describe the demographic you help and how you help them, your explanation should be clear and specific enough that if the listener knows a person who fits that description, that person’s face instantly appears in their minds.
This is called the “face test”. If your niche is so broad that your description of it doesn’t call a face to anybody’s mind, it’s too vague, and it won’t bring you many clients or referrals.
One good way to describe your niche and service is to say “I help (niche) to (the action you help them take) so they can (the benefit you give them)”.
For example, “I help life coaches to get clear on their marketing message and set up their online marketing system, so they can attract more high-paying clients.”
When you’re clear on your niche and your description of your service, you’re showing up as your full authentic self, and you know the 5 ingredients to good conversations, you can approach people with more confidence, attract more clients, and get more referral partners from each event.