Attending a Conference? Growing your Business using face to face Networking

Growing your business using face to face networking: Attending a Conference

I hope everyone is doing well on this Sunday afternoon…the weather here in Canada is turning up the heat finally we are out of the freezer although our winter this year was more like a fridge (Mild cold).  Enough about the weather, I recently attended a conference which I thought it was very successful.  Returning home, when I was chatting with the passenger beside me, I had time to digest the “why’s, do’s and don’ts” here is some thoughts for you to consider

Any time I thought about a conference, or any marketing effort for that matter, first thing comes to mind is cost associated of attending the event, and I always remember my boss’ words ringing in my ears: how much did we dollars did we generate from this event? Was it worth it (Meaning, did you come back with orders) etc… These for the novice can cause pressure, pressure which could result in acting frantically in these events. Relax, your boss is doing his job and watching his cost, he doesn’t want to see you going on a useless business trip (rightly so) and I think you agree with him/her as well.

Most people will go to conference with 2 states of minds:
1-      Hyperactive
2-      Passive

I want to make sure we all understand this idea: Going to a conference to pick up a purchase order and come back to the office to become a hero, (90% of the time) this is not true and you will disappoint yourself.  I am sure we all agree to that. I go to conferences to build allies, to find friends and partners, I want to find people that we can get along and build a long lasting friendship. Wow some would say, where is the PO where is the sale. If you look to build allies, you will convey the message that you are a good person, and you are trust worthy and people want to connect with you therefore they would feel comfortable giving you business. And if you go attend a conference and you are frantically running / bouncing from conversation to another like a humming bird trying to find where the cash is, people will see through this and no one would want to talk to you (90% of the time) and if they did, this will not cause a long lasting relationship (90% of the time again). Obviously by now you are wondering why I am using the 90%…well in my world the 80/20 rule is more like 90/10 for now, of course this is subject to change 🙂

Here is what I recommend:
1-      Create a business development / sales plan
2-      Include more than one initiative in this sales plan:
       a.       Conferences
       b.      Phone
       c.       Email
       d.      Other types of networking

Yes that’s right, sales jobs are hard work, and if you think you will get a sales job and few months later with minimal efforts you will be behind the wheel of a shining Maserati (90% of the sales people will fail and that’s not a prediction, this is reality).

Once you selected the Conferences you like to attend, make sure you repeatedly attend the same events. Why?
1-      Stay on the message
2-      Prove that you are here for the long term not just show-up once and move on
3-      Build supporters and allies (this is very important)
4-      Allow people to get to know you personally
5-      Allow the market to become familiar with the product and services you represent
6-      This will give time for you to train your contacts to become your advocates

Here is some ideas that you can prepare yourself give yourself objectives for every conference like this:

1-      Number of conversation I want to have during the event, for me I use the number 100

2-      Read the attendee list, get familiar with the names persons and companies
3-      Train your memory to remember the names
At the end of the day it is a mathematical game, the more conversations you have the closer you get to your objecties.

Another message and recommendation I give you, remember this really well, I can’t emphasise this enough: Treat everyone you meet with respect, it doesn’t matter what they do who they work for, or what company they represent. And Please BE genuine
I had to use my pic LOL

Why do I state something that is so obvious as this: Because, I’ve seen many cases where the sales person thinks himself so high and mighty and before they speak to someone they make sure to glance at the conference badge of the person to pick-up the company and the title, then they make determination if this is worthy conversation or not. I consider this disrespectful and counter effort to the objective we have set for an event: build relationships, grow champions etc… Why some sales people do that, allow me to criticize for a second: Sales people (some) are lazy, they want to have one conversation (the obvious conversation) and close a deal, they want to excerpt a minimal effort to come home with a PO. Again this is indeed counter effort to the objective we set earlier and I am sure my readers are not like that.

I can tell you that is based on experience many times I have conversation with people which I thought there is no business connection there, but I am always surprised of the boomerang effect that a year or 2 later that conversation which created a friendship and personally connection have created a business connection. I truly believe, friends will help each other, if we process sales like thoughtlessly, without feelings or personal emotional investment, these are relationship that don’t last very long and the likelihood of producing results are very slim.

On the management side we need to recognize the long sales cycle that our product and services are characterized by, and we need to give our BD and sales team the runway to build the momentum in the marketplace. What’s in it for management/ownership?

Obviously Cash…

1-      Loyal clients
2-      Long lasting relationships
3-      Much high degree of positive reputation
4-      This ultimately generated better revenues and profitability

 I close my blog this afternoon by saying, I am very excited for the future, and I hope everyone of my readers feels the same. I wish you a successful week ahead.
Happy hunting

Don’t be afraid, pick up the phone and make the call…Gaining trust, building business/personal connections fast

Building fast business and personal relationship

As some of us who’s been in doing business for a while and over the many years of experience, I learned a valuable lesson in building relationships and gaining trust and establishing what I describe as sustainable business relationship in many ways I can sum it up by saying, you need to present yourself as a decent a trust worthy human being. With that in mind we need to make absolutely certain that these characteristics takes the centre stage in any form of communication we conduct.

We need to open these communications channels (Email, phone, and face to face meetings) positively toward the intended recipient. People need to know you to trust you (that’s a given I know). So as it is obvious the easier form of communication (I call it least committal, in terms of personal emotional commitment) is the email, it is dry form of a communication, some of these emails now a days are not even written by human (Robo computer generated) how can intended recipient really connect with someone or build a relationship based on only using email? Trust me I’ve received some emails from real person you’d swear it was generated by a computer program…At the end of the day and as a minimum the intended recipient on the other side of our communication channel needs to know we really exist and we are a human (I stress the work Human) which I will explain further here.

My preferred method of quickly connecting with someone, the first time I reach out to someone, I make sure I follow my email with a phone call. That way the communication is now someone concrete and the email message gain a degree of legitimacy. However many people don’t like to talk on the phone and core of their job (any job now a days) requires them to talk on the phone for various reasons.  In my today’s blog I want to address the issue of: Phone Phobia

Not being able to talk on the phone has many reasons:

1-      Not enough time
2-      I don’t feel like it
3-      Or a more serious issue: Social Anxiety Disorder

I am going to assume the first 2 reasons are easy to solve, and we don’t need to waist precious keystrokes to discuss them. I am going however, to focus on the Social Anxiety Disorder and try to she some light on this important subject.

Many people may not like talking on the phone, or may even have a ‘phone fear.’ But a fear of talking on the phone may actually be considered a phone phobia when your hesitance to make and receive calls causes you to experience symptoms such as severe anxiety, shortness of breath, or a racing heart.

 Those who do not have social anxiety disorder may be afraid to use the phone; they may be more comfortable in direct social interactions, perhaps due to the fact that face-to-face settings allow them to be able to read non-verbal cues, like facial expressions. However, those with social anxiety disorder obviously suffer from the opposite. If you are dealing with this condition, a phone fear may reflect issues you are contending with regarding interaction with others at large.

Over the past few weeks I have been hearing (On several occasions) that some people don’t like to talk on the phone.

After doing some research on the topic, I found the following suggestions as treatment for the condition:

Treatment Options
Treatment for phone phobia can include:  Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) techniques, such as cognitive restructuring and exposure training. In addition, there are many self-help strategies that you can use to cope with anxiety about using the phone.

Cognitive restructuring involves challenging beliefs and replacing negative thoughts with more constructive alternatives. For example, if you constantly worry that you will bother the other person when making a phone call; cognitive restructuring might have you consider the evidence that this is actually true.

Why would the person answer the phone if he was too busy? Why would he have asked you to call if he didn’t want to talk to you? Eventually, you would reach the conclusion that it is unlikely you are bothering the other person or that he doesn’t want to speak with you.

Exposure traininginvolves the gradual practice of progressively more difficult behaviors. In the case of telephone phobia, a hierarchy of fears might look something like the one below (listed from easiest to most difficult). Each behavior is practiced until you are comfortable and can move on to the next most difficult one.

Telephone Fear Hierarchy
1.Call a number that you know will only have a recorded message, like a customer service line.
2.Call a family member or friend that you know well.
3.Call a business and ask a straightforward question, such as when they close.
4.Call someone that you don’t know well with a simple question.
5.Call someone that you don’t know well about a complicated issue.
6.Make each of the previous types of calls in front of one person.
7.Make each of the previous types of calls in front of a group of people.

Your hierarchy might be different depending on whether you find friends or strangers more difficult to talk to, and whether it is more difficult for you to talk on the phone in front of someone else.

It may be difficult to create a hierarchy to deal with the fear of answering calls. If you typically avoid answering the phone, one strategy would be to use a caller ID unit to identify who is calling. You could then start by answering calls from people that you are most comfortable with and letting other calls go to voice mail. Eventually, you would progress to answering more difficult calls.

Ideally you should practice cognitive-behavioral techniques under the supervision of a trained therapist. If meeting with a CBT counselor isn’t possible, or if you have already participated in CBT and are looking for additional ways to cope, the following strategies may come in handy.

Coping methods:

•Put a smile on your face before making and receiving calls. This may sound silly, but many say it helps them relax and even contributes to conveying a sense of pleasantness to the person you’re speaking with.

•Reward yourself after making difficult calls by spending some time doing something that you enjoy.

•Visualize yourself successfully making or receiving calls. Imagine a positive conversation and feeling good afterward.

•If you are concerned about interrupting someone when you call, ask whether you are catching the person at a bad time. If the person is in the middle of something, this gives him the chance to offer to call you back.

•If someone says “no” or turns down a request, realize that it could be for many reasons that have nothing to do with you. Try not to read too much into the actions of someone else.

•Do a bit of preparation before making a call, but don’t go overboard. Know generally what you are going to say, but try to anticipate that the conversation may not go exactly as you have planned. If there are important points that you need to bring up, make sure to write those down and keep them handy.

•Realize that you don’t always have to answer the phone. If someone is calling you at a bad time, or if you are too anxious to talk, it is acceptable to let calls go to voice mail from time to time.

•Know that the phone may not always be the best method of communication. If you need to have a record of your conversation or if you want to give the other person time to reflect before responding, email may be the better choice. However, if the issue you need to discuss is complex, emotional, or involves a lot of back-and-forth, calling or meeting face-to-face are best.

I hope this helps…and until next time…keep reading my blog and have fun

Coping Strategies