How to sell yourself to your latest connection

Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
by Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence on November 3, 2019
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How to become part of someone else’s network

This is the $64,000.00 question. If you are not recognised as being part of someone else’s network, then the likelihood of generating mutual benefit is exceptionally low.

Rainmaker PRO software is about developing the ‘win-win’ approach that defines being the go-to-Rainmaker in your market-place-of-maximum-relevance. Here are four strategies to reflect on when selling yourself as a connection to a new contact. (This article does follow on from the previous Rainmakers take coffee article which focuses on the value of developing relationships rather than connections).

The Roman philosopher, statesman, and satirist of the Silver Age of Latin literature Lucius Annaeus Seneca could not have phrased it better:

“One hand washes the other. (Manus Manum Lavat)”

                                                                                                                         ― Seneca

The hand shake

If you are unable to add real value to a new contact, then how do you think this will eventually play out? In this current era of marketing noise and with so many people trying to be memorable it is not easy to create meaningful connectivity with a new connection. These four strategies will help you. The most valued connections are those that are also in demand. It is not enough to swap cards and ‘explain in 60 seconds what you do’.

Looking for opportunity

Hold focused follow up meetings

Your rainmaking success will hinge on your ability to lead an effective follow up meeting that engages your new connection to hope for a second. If there is not enough value in the relationship to do this then this particular contact will be unable to help you build your network. A key attribute of the successful rainmaker is follow-up. It is said you never get a chance to make a first impression. There is truth in this. It is one of the cognitive biases referred to as Halo effect.

‘This refers to the impact that someone can make by using confident small talk and dynamic self-presentation in the first minutes of a meeting. You are more likely to conclude that they are competent. This first good impression throws a hazy halo of positivity over all subsequent information’.

Plug into a memory

‘First impressions matter. Experts say we size up new people in somewhere between 30 seconds and two minutes’. ―Elliott Abrams                                                            

At the first follow up meeting you both know very little about each other. So, this follow up meeting is a selling situation for both sides. Most of us will turn to the Web before a follow up meeting. Reviewing any news items on the connections website and using Google to browse for any other information. Many will then browse the LinkedIn profile of the connection to get some sort of starting point.

‘If people are failing, they look inept. If people are succeeding, they look strong and good and competent. That’s the ‘halo effect.’ Your first impression of a thing sets up your subsequent beliefs. If the company looks inept to you, you may assume everything else they do is inept’.  ―Daniel Kahneman   

This cursory process still means that we will still know very little about what is important to them. (This plays into why they decided to take the follow up meeting). To build the relationship you need to engage with this subject.Relationship buildingWhat is important to them will dictate how you fit into their network. (PRO Rainmakers start from there). If you are not in their ‘market-place-of-maximum-relevance’ then the engine of engagement will be lacking the fuel to start the process.

‘We don’t know where our first impressions come from or precisely what they mean, so we don’t always appreciate their fragility’.―Malcolm Gladwell     

Make a first impression count 

It is all about the detail. If your connection turns up to the coffee house late, wearing an old pair of jeans and a baseball cap… what is your initial impression?

If your second meeting walks in, on time, is well dressed and carrying a brief case which connection would you rather invest in?

In rainmaking first impressions count, and they do in the follow up. It’s not just how you present yourself, but what you present. Be professional, look professional, sound professional, and don’t deliver a canned presentation in the first meeting. (Or in any meeting for that matter).

Ensure that you have a game plan

This might fall under building rapport, but the key component is effective use of time and letting this new connection know that you respect their time too. The most effective way of building rapport in the modern age is getting to the point. This is a game plan on its own.I appreciate that this may be an outlier opinion as we all have read advice that suggests not to immediately get into the key components of a meeting before making small talk. There is a balance but, especially in major cities where the pace of business and networking is so much faster, people do not have time to sit around and talk about the love of their favourite football team in work time.

  • By getting right to the point you are showing respect.
  • If they are comparing you to someone else it seperates you.

For example:

‘Andrew, I know we spoke on the phone you said you had 30 minutes for a coffee. Is that the case? Great I have some overview of what you look like online and from what you shared when we first met. This is the first time we have sat down is there anything specific where you think I might be of benefit to you’?

This is a variant and you need to consider if that is the right approach for what you offer your network but at least it starts the conversation from their point of view. If you cannot be part of their point of view, then it is unlikely that this new connection will form part of yours. We are all trading time.

Understand their point of view

We need to make the most of those 30 minutes. If you want interesting answers that lead to what is important to them, we need to ask interesting questions.

The strongest advice we have collated is to lead with questions that communicate you have done some research. Any questions that position you as an expert will help build your credibility and reputation.

Examples:

  • I have read that AB and C appears to be happening your sector. It looks like X, Y, and Z is the impact of that. Is that effecting you?
  • I had a look at your website, and he suggests that your key priorities in 2020 are ABC. They sound like ambitious goals. What challenges are you facing in those areas?
  • I saw on your LinkedIn profile that you spent time involved in change management. Is that having an impact in your current role? 

This type of conversation will support you position yourself as someone seeking knowledge. It gives them the opportunity to talk about what they’re doing which will support you decide if this person is a strategic match for your network and vice versa.

Social Commercial Comfort 5next

This framework will need to be bespoke for each meeting. You will need to spend some time working out what you are going to do. (If you are unable to do that what is the point anyway)? Most connections want to know that you are a valued match for them professionally and most people network upwards or sideways not downwards. The best way to show this is through the questions you ask. It also helps differentiate you from your competitors.

Follow through will decide how valuable you become to each other.

Author
Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
Johnny ‘Bob’ Spence
5next co-founder. Trainer, networking coach, writer & author. Educated at L. S. E. & Wits University. ‘$1,000,000 Round Table’ sales qualifier. Author ILM accredited: ‘Executive Programme in Professional & Business Networking’. Rainmaking experience in RSA, UK, France, Finland, Austria, Belgium, Hong Kong, Pakistan, Dubai, Poland, Germany, Slovak Republic & the USA.
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