Is keeping in touch with prospects and staying connected with your network something that you prioritise? If not, it should be, but let’s make it easier for you to stay connected.
Recently I completed a strategic networking audit with a client, where we discussed his targets, the connections he already had in certain sectors and how he would rate them. You might try the same exercise. We listed three target organisations and three to four names at each of these organisations, who were the actual decision makers.
Then I asked him to score himself one through to ten on whether this person was someone he knew, vaguely, really well, or an advocate. By that I meant, if you picked up the phone now and phoned them, they would take your call if they were available, know who you were and definitely be receptive to your call – that is a 10, that is an advocate. They know, like and trust you and may choose to refer business to you in the future.
Not surprisingly this guy was a great networker and more than 50 per cent of the 10 connections were scored at 9/10 or 10/10. Well done.
Then I put another column on the page and asked him to tell me some personal information about those 10 people – anything at all. What they do outside of work, where they lived, married, single, where were they born, what sport they followed if any, how long they had lived in this city?
Guess what, he drew a blank with more than 50 per cent of them. His business connections were very strong, but he knew very little about the personal side of his prospects life. He stressed that many people were private and he didn’t like to pry. I assured him having a conversation with someone and asking, “how was your weekend, what did you get up to?” is not prying. It’s conversation.
He told me sometimes he runs out of conversation. I assured him there is no such thing as running out of conversation – you just run out of questions. If you prepare a couple of questions that you feel comfortable asking and answering – you will be fine.
And if all you talk about is business, you really struggle building that bridge of trust – which is really a pre-requisite for developing advocacy. He turned the tables and asked me to tell him about some of my clients and how well I knew them.
So I did:
a. I knew one who takes a few weeks off work when the Olympics are on and stays up every night watching his favourite sports. Is he fit? Not really – but he loves watching sport. So it has been easy to email him during this Olympic period about the various results and asking his opinion on the lack of Australian gold medals.
b. Another wonderful CEO has an autistic daughter,she is absolutely a devoted parent and loves her daughter to bits. So discussing her daughter’s progress from time to time or cutting items out of newspapers or magazines about autism and aspergers syndrome is something I just do automatically and I know she appreciates it.
c. Another client is a film buff like me, and we often send short emails – Forget XXXX, not worth seeing. Or hurry, ABC is about to end, don’t miss it. Thankfully, we have similar interests in films.
After about the 10th description of a client or prospect, he made me stop. “I get it Robyn, I get it. This is not really 10/10 – its really 10/10 plus 5/10 which is 15/20 – or 7.5 out of 10. So I need to work on these connections”. I agreed.
For your interest I have a keen interest in humpback whales, volcanoes, spirituality, films, photography and nature.
What about your connections, what are they interested in? Why not try the exercise I did with my client and just see how well you score. And if both scores are not equal – well you know what to do.
Have you taken up the challenge? What are you results? Share them below and discuss with others about how strong your connections are.