The Trend Report Podcast

Episode 132: 10 to Win: Stop Networking

Sid Meadows


Hey friend, and welcome to the trend report. I'm glad you're joining me today for another conversation with just me and you and I've actually decided to rename these 10 to Win, meaning that this should be a 10 minute or less episode With some really great nuggets of information for you to help you win in life and win in business.

I'm Sid Meadows and I'm a business leader, a coach, consultant and a longtime student of the office furniture industry, and in this podcast, we have powerful conversations with industry leaders and innovators and others Making an impact in their business and our industry. My goal is pretty simple to provide you with valuable insights, information, resources and tools To help you grow and your business grow, and to help move our industry forward. So let's dive into today's conversation, something I'm calling it's time to stop networking and start connecting.


We're into the new year and hopefully by now, you have set all of your goals and you know exactly what you need to do to make 2024 an amazing year for you and your business. And as we move into the new year, I'd like to challenge you to set one additional goal that I'm confident is gonna help you and your business grow and that, my friends, is to stop networking and start connecting.

Now I'm sure you might be thinking this guy is crazy. Networking is an important part of sales and you need to network, and I get it, and likely you're undoubtedly your boss, your manager is probably talking to you about the importance of networking and you've likely been conditioned to believe that this is Networking, is critical to your success and that you got to get out there and you got to do it. So let me explain a little bit more about what I mean when I say make this year the year to stop networking. But before we dive in, let's look at the meaning of the word networking.

According to my research In the University of Google in the dictionary actually defines networking as the action or process of interacting with others to exchange information and to develop professional and social contacts. So basically, what it's saying is networking is interacting with others to develop context, and that's really good. That's great, actually, because we need more context to market to, so that we can indeed grow our business. In fact, some people would say that the more people that we come in contact with, the more opportunities that will be generated, the more sales that will be created, and obviously more sales means more revenue.

But aren't these just contacts? They're not really meaningful and strong connections. They're just people that we've met right there, just contacts. I want you to think a minute about the last networking event that you went to. How much did it cost you to attend that event? How many people did you meet? How many business cards did you pass out and how many did you collect? And after the event, what did you do with all that information, with those business cards and all that contact information? What'd you do? Well, you're like most people. You probably went over to your CRM and, you know, added them into that, maybe put them into some kind of email sequence, maybe, just maybe, you went out and connected with them on LinkedIn and then, likely, you just put them in a drawer or a file somewhere and I'm guessing you probably haven't looked at them Since then or made any additional contact with them.

Now. Maybe a couple of you might have gone as far as send an email, a personal email. Right, but based on my experience, that's about it. But ironically, most people think that success. They look at that as success. You got a few new contacts, you increase the number of people in your CRM and you're good to go. Well, congratulations because, in my opinion, you basically Accomplished nothing. See, the problem with network networking is the entire concept has been diluted. We are so hung up on increasing our social connections and following that, all we focus on is collecting business cards, sharing our pitch. Moving on to the next person, we've forgotten that networking is really an art. It's the process of meeting and connecting with real people. It's about learning about them and then following up with them to really and truly build a meaningful relationship.

And the problem with networking events is that most people and you probably are gonna agree with me attending them are just like you, their salespeople, looking for their next customer. The people that you're likely meeting are not even your target customer or even someone that could be your customer, right? Typically, they're not even the decision maker and likely can't or won't Introduce you to who the decision maker is, even if they know who that is. You're asking yourself like why? Why is this right? Well, I'm gonna say likely because you attended Free event that was a cocktail hour at some, let's say, trendy locations of hip bar restaurant right, hosted by a random group of people. Probably you don't know that we're hoping to add some value to the masses by gathering people together. You probably saw the event posted on social media somewhere. Are you searching event brighter, meet up because you're being hammered to get out there right, hammered to get out there. Network and go and do things right. Be wondering is is what you're really doing? Is it, even in our industry, the people you're meeting even relevant to what it is that you sell, right?

Well, if any of this rings true to you, honestly, networking is not working for you. You're wasting your time, and time is a very precious commodity and we don't have any to waste. That's why I think it's so important we change our focus. It's time for us to start connecting connecting with the right people. So, rather than stay in the typical networking trap, I want you to change your strategy and your process and stop networking and start connecting. And yes, exactly what I'm saying to you is, rather than go collect a bunch of business cards, connect with just a few people and start building meaningful relationships with them. I promise you, it's not that difficult. You just need to change your approach a little bit.

So here's what I'd like for you to think about prior to going to the event do some research, find out about the event. How long has the event been going on? What type of people attend the event? How many people actually show up and come to the event? You can look back and see what is it that they do At this event like. What kind of activities do they have, if you will right? Is it free or is it your fee associated with it? Well, I'll give you a pro tip here paid events are better than free events. Paid events are better than free events. So now, done a little bit of research about the event where you go. When you get there, what are you going to do? Let's talk about this for a minute. When you're at the event, after you've introduced yourself to the person that you're talking to, don't ask this question. Don't ask the question what do you do? Rather, ask something like what made you decide to attend this event? What a great open-ended question.

Then, that's going to allow you to engage in a conversation with them about the event or maybe a key topic that they mentioned while you were chatting there, but be sure to let them talk more than you're talking. That's right. Use your intuitive listening skills to pick up on what's being said as well as what's not being said. I think that is so important in the world of today, in networking. You got to really think of this as like a customer meeting, but less formal. You're asking the questions and they are doing all the talking, not the other way around. Can you think about a time that you went to a networking event and all you did was give your pitch, introduce yourself and give your pitch to 15 people.

How did that make you feel when you left? I remember a time where I was in a meeting and I'd come out of the meeting and I was so excited. I was recapping the meeting, thinking, oh, I got to do this, I got to tell them about how we do this, about the product and about this point, and blah, blah, blah. As I reflected back on it, I thought that's actually a horrible meeting because I talked more than the client talked. Yeah, I got to throw up all over the client, if you will, and I talked more than they talked. What did I learn from them? Or learn about them or about their project? The reality to that answer is not much so thinking. Networking and the person you're talking to just like that that. You want them to talk, you want them to share, you want to learn about them.

Now, once you've learned about that person and why they're there, start asking more questions, and especially of yourself. So ask yourself is this someone that you want to build a relationship with? Is this someone that could be in your circle or should be in your circle? Is this someone that can maybe help you get to someone else in their business, or maybe introduce you to someone else or a friend or something? And if the answer to any of those questions is yes, then, and only then, swap business cards and wrap up with something like hey, it was great to meet you, let's grab a coffee soon. You're initiating the next step, right. And if you do do that, you swap the card and you say hey, great to meet you, let's grab a coffee, then you need to be sure you follow up with that, right. But if you don't think that the person that you're talking to is the right person, then move on, go to the next person, just politely in the conversation, and go meet someone else and meet someone new.

Now keep in mind that as you go through the group to be focused on how a relationship with whoever you're talking to not only just benefit you but benefit the other person as well. Who can you connect them with or introduce them to? How can you add value to their life? Remember, relationship is a two-way street, friends. So what's next? Well, after you've made a few connections real connections you're gonna follow up with that. You're gonna connect with them on LinkedIn In a meaningful way. You're gonna send them a note when you send the connection request about how great it was to meet, you are great to connect with you at xyz event, kind of thing, and then also send them an email and thanking them in an email and initiating that next step maybe try to get a time on the calendar for a month out for that coffee or after work drinks or something like that. But then I want you to think about how you can add some value to that. Do something that you don't normally do or haven't done before. Here's couple examples for you. Right, maybe? First you're talking to. You told you about Interest, something that they're really interested in, how they're reading books, about it. Go by that connection a book and send them a book with a handwritten note Letting them know that you thought about them when you saw this in the bookstore. Be intentional about what you're doing and don't talk about this a lot before. Never, ever, ever, underestimate the power of a handwritten note. People love them because it's a lost art. I literally, friend, have a drawer in my office full of handwritten notes that I've gotten because I keep every one of them, because they are so few and far between.

Now, remember, be sure that you continue to follow up with them and if you haven't secured a confirmation for the meet up and next meet up or coffee or whatever, it is be sure you follow up with that. Again, just be creative, be thoughtful, be you, be the real, you Alright. Networking can be easy. Meeting people is easy, passing out business cards is easy. Connecting with someone new is hard and it takes time, it takes effort and it takes work on your part. This is not going to work for everyone that you try to connect with. I promise you that. But if you do it correctly, with intention, the possibilities are endless and these new connections, these new relationships you're building, hold the opportunity and the power to introduce you to multiple people who need you, your products and your services, or maybe even introduce you to the decision maker within their organization. One true connection could develop into multiple opportunities over time and is much better than twenty five business cards and information that you throw into your CRM. Now, don't rush this. Make it meaningful for you and for them. Guarantee you none of us need more random people filling up our lives and our email boxes and our social feeds. What we want and what we need are more true connections and meaningful relationships, especially in today's world. Cheers to an amazing twenty twenty four. I am only for you and wishing you much success throughout this year.


So I appreciate you joining me today for this quick ten to win. I hope you liked it. Hope you got some great value out of it. If you did, I would welcome if you had head over to apple. Leave us a review, let me know what you thought about the podcast in general, and we look forward to seeing you again in a couple weeks. Go out there and make today great.


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