One of my favorite talks to give is "How To Work An Event" filled with tips on how to effectively "work" a networking event, conference, etc. At the very beginning, I ask the audience to raise their hand if:
- They came to the event with the intention to sell something
- They came to the event with the intention to buy something
Usually 25-30% of the room will admit that they came to sell. It's rare that even 1 person will admit to attending because they wanted to buy something.
This past week I attended 2 different networking events. Each one attracted a specific audience but the purpose behind each event was different. One event has table sponsors each month. The women enjoy seeing what the sponsors are offering and some sales do occur. Generally there is a speaker with great content and the opportunity to get to know the other 7 women at the table. There is a fee and lunch is included. I've met people key for my niche and have taken the time to build a relationship with them. The woman who holds these events does so with the specific purpose of selling memberships and advertising. We know this upfront and it's just part of the culture.
The other event was free but you were expected to buy your lunch to support the free space. They had a great, shortened menu that made it easy for attendees to order and the event hosts even sent it out prior to the event, which was great planning. Like most other events, there was open networking and then we sat at tables of 8. But here's where things were different than any other networking event or meeting I've attended... our first networking exercise was to find out some personal information about 1 person at our table. Nothing about work.
I asked the woman across from me, "If you could go anywhere in the world for 2 weeks and not have to worry about work, money, or anything else, where would you go?" After a few seconds, her eyes lit up and she enthusiastically said, "Italy. I fell in love with the movie Under The Tuscan Sun and would love to go there!". That opened up a whole new conversation that got us to know the personal side of each other.
We were then given time to introduce the person we'd just learned about with the other people at our table. About 20 minutes, we shared info about our businesses with the other 7 people at our table. It was received at a higher level because we'd just spent time getting to know the person first, not the business.
Interestingly enough, at both events 90% of the attendees came with the intention of finding new clients, customers, or patients.
At the end of the event, each person walked away with new contacts. Which event provided a better foundation for reaching out to those contacts (and actually getting a response) and moving it into a relationship rather than just a sales pitch?
Think about your audience when you speak. There are people who feel that selling something that day is the key to a successful speaking gig. I believe this attitude will lose you more sales than you'll ever make because you are ignoring a huge percentage of the audience who are considering buying but need to know "you" a little bit more, How you position your talk, what you offer, and how you follow up will allow you to showcase what you do, why you do, and how it can make a difference in their lives.
Don't just focus on the 3% who statistically are ready to buy now...
Reach out and persuade the 40-70% who will typically buy over the next few months.