I don't know about you, but I still find a lot of value in face-to-face networking. I like to get out at least once a week and go to a networking meeting. Meeting new people, learning about new businesses, and learning new things is exciting for me.
There's a lot of interesting people, a lot of new interesting businesses popping up and sometimes you just have to take the time to learn about them. On the other side of the coin, when you go to these meetings, you'll occasionally meet somebody who will walk up to you and say, “Hey, what do you do?” You tell them and they grab your business card. The next thing you know you're added to an email list. Then you start getting emails from them or you start getting harassed by them on social media. That's not the way to network.
Pay It Forward
I went to a recent networking meeting where I met a handful of very nice people. I sat next to one person who happened to be a coach and I said, “Hey, have you heard about this coaching group, and by the way, here's another group I think that you'd be very interested in on Facebook.” So I gave her some value sitting down and she came back to the second meeting when I saw her and said, “Hey, thanks for connecting me up with that stuff.”
She wasn't trying to sell me her services and I didn't expect anything in return. But, I know I made an impression. Now, if she needs something I offer, I'll be top of mind.
When somebody tries to connect and pitch, they're doing so because they have been taught a very specific skill set. Their goal is to connect with someone, capture their attention, ask them about what they do, and then pitch away.
You probably see a lot of this on LinkedIn. Sometimes people send a direct message, “Hey, thanks for the connection. How are you doing?” A day or two later they'll come back and say, “Hey, hope you're having a fabulous day. Let me know if and how I can help.” Nothing too wrong with that, right? Then they come back and BAM… let the pitch commence! “Hey, I know you don't know me. But I've got this really great product or service and if you'll only sit down and watch this 30 minute commercial that I've put together, I think you'll realized that I have the best bread slicer ever invented and you're going to want to buy it and have your friends buy it, too.”
Connect & Pitch
This is something that is taught by a lot of, so-called, lead generation experts. “Hey, if you connect up with your 30,000 person limit, sooner or later you'll connect with somebody who's going to want to buy from you.” That, my friend, is not the way it really works in the world of networking.
This is something that's also taught by many network marketing companies – it all starts by inviting someone to get together. Then you ease them in and hope you get them in a situation where you can sit down and pitch your products or services.
Another person I met at this meeting was a nice lady, but I wasn't quite sure what she did. I do remember it had something to do with health and wellness.
A few days later I get a call and she says, “Hey, I'd like to schedule a meeting with you,” and I said, “Well, I really don't have time for face to face meetings. I don't get out that much. But if you want to do a phone call, I'm totally open for that.” So we booked a time for the call.
It started off very congenially and she says, “Hi, it's great to talk. How are you doing? So, tell me about your business.” Within five minutes I was able to explain what I do, who I do it for, who my perfect customer is and laid out key talking points of information that she could maybe use if somebody was interested in what I had to offer. Obviously, I reciprocated and I said, “Okay, so tell me about your business.” That's when things went drastically wrong.
She said, “Well, we're this health and wellness company and by the way, I'm going to send you a link to this two minute video,” and I said, “Okay, but I don't have time to watch a video right now. I'm talking to you.” She says, “No, you need to understand what our company does and this video explains it really well.” I asked her, “Well, I just explained to you in five minutes what I do without a video. Can you do the same thing?”
She said, “Well, not really. You need to watch this video.” I said, “But I don't have time to watch a video.” Then she went on to explain that her company won't let her. Then after that, there was another video that would get into the real details about what she did and it was 17 minutes long. I quickly explained to her, I said, “No offense, but I don't have time to watch a half hour commercial. So can you please just tell me what it is that you do? What makes you different? How are you different than the other companies out there selling similar products?”
She said, “Well, you need to watch the video,” and I said, “Well, this sounds like a very network marketing style thing.” She goes, “Well, we are not an MLM.” That's a telltale sign it's an MLM. We politely ended the session and I felt like I had just wasted my (and her) time.
Avoid The Time Sucking Pitch Vortex
I'd like to save you form wasting your time and lay out five ways people reel you into their connect and pitch…
- The first one is the ole' “I'd like to get to know you,” pitch, which is kind of what happened on this one.
- Next, “Hey, I think we can work together.” So they kind of offer you the idea that maybe you have something to offer them when really what they want to do is get your attention and tell you what they can offer you.
- The next one that happens a lot in LinkedIn is, “We're looking for partners.” They're looking for somebody basically to sell their stuff and use your influence to sell their products.
- Another one is, “I need what you sell,” and so you start telling them what you do and you ask them, “How can I help you?” Then they gently start slipping in how you can partner with them to help sell their services.
- And my all time favorite, “Hey, can I buy you lunch?” Now, they may not be pitching you anything. What they're really saying is, “Can I buy an hour of your time for five bucks?” This happens to me all the time.
Make Some Limited Time
I usually try to direct them to a phone call. I can usually find some mutual value when I limit it to 15 minutes or so. I'll listen for a few, I'll talk for a few, but I'll try to provide some value. If you think you can provide and receive some value, try to pay it forward.
Networking is really about listening to the other person and trying to figure out how I can connect this person with an opportunity that would help them. That's really the purpose. You're not there to sell your services. You're there to build relationships and create connections. But, some people just don't get it.
They really don't want anything that you provide. They certainly don't want to connect you with anybody that could potentially use your business. All they're trying to do is suck you into the time vortex to get you to listen to their pitch because, damn, if you listen to that first two minutes, you're going to want to listen to that other 17 minutes and after that 17 minutes, not only are you going to sign up and buy products, but you're going to go out and sell it to all of your friends and you're going to get as rich as they do.
How do I know that? Because when I went to their website, I saw the profit chart of how I could make money. Was it a waste of time? No, because I got to meet somebody nice and I learned something new (another way to recognize and avoid a new catch and pitch scenario).
I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Comment below and share your thoughts, ideas or questions about the best ways to pitch your services. Have you had to overcome any of the presented concepts? What worked and what did not live up to your expectations? Do you have any ideas or advice you could share?
To learn more about this and other topics on Internet Marketing, visit our podcast website at http://www.baconpodcast.com/podcasts/