"No way!" That was my reaction when my girlfriend told me about the meeting she had the other day.
"So I met a gentleman at this networking event. He seemed really interested in my business so we scheduled time to meet for coffee. He asked me two questions about my business. Then he launched into a long speech about his business, and proceeded to ask me detailed questions about my insurance!"
UGH! I've experienced similar situations. I was once at a networking event and as soon as I told the other person my name, she asked, "Would you like to try my product?" Err....too soon.
How many times has this happened to you? Launching into a sales spiel is similar to telling someone you love them on the first date. It doesn't make sense! And it is too much, too soon.
First, this guy didn't ask my friend if she already has the type of insurance she sells. Maybe she does already and he's wasting his time. Second, he didn't know if she is happy with her insurance coverage. Maybe she does have that type of insurance and would like a change...but he doesn't know if he doesn't ASK! She may have been his ideal client but he blew it by TALKING AT HER and NOT LISTENING!
I love networking, and I think it is one of the best ways to generate sales leads. But it has to come from a normal relationship! You need to KNOW your potential customer! Ask them questions about what THEY want!
I also love networking when I don't know if the other person and I can do business together. Does that sound strange? It shouldn't. What I'm doing is building a real network of people I know who are in different industries. Sure, maybe I can't do business right now with this person, but later on, I might be able to recommend them to someone. And they might recommend me to someone. Right now, we are just two people, talking, getting to know the other person...AS A PERSON!
Getting to know others and having a relationship can also make you a valued connector. I want to know if you are someone with whom I feel comfortable. If I feel you will respond like an interested person who is listening to me, then I will feel like I can recommend you to someone else. If you only talk at me, and not with me, um, no thanks!
Listening to potential clients and really understanding what they are saying goes a long ways. I try to remember this myself! Remember this:
"We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak." ~Epictetus