Revolve Nation Meetup July 18, 2012
Overcoming Networking Challenges and Sales Challenges
The Revolve Nation Boston Entrepreneurs Meetup is the largest community of entrepreneurs and small business owners in the city of Boston, offering networking, discussion groups, seminars, business plan hot-seats, and more. We meet every two weeks on Wednesday nights to network, socialize, learn, and promote a thriving community of entrepreneurs.
1. What are some common obstacles to effective networking and how do you overcome them?
One of the members is working to help others with sales and wanted some insight into how others perceived the ups and downs of networking.
The prevailing sentiment was that it’s often awkward approaching total strangers, especially at larger events. To this point, the group offered two insights: (1) If you’re at a true networking event, then everyone should have at least something in common. Start there! (2) Remember, at least half of the other people there are in the same position as you. They don’t know a soul and may not feel confident about what to do next. Do both of yourselves a favor and introduce yourself!
To prepare, try to learn about attendees before you arrive. Many events make a list available to those who sign up. Take advantage of this and other tools like LinkedIn to arrive ready to make the most of your time.
Go with a mindset that you will be looking to meet people who you can help in some way. When you meet others, be upfront and ask, “What can I do for you?” It works, and most people are savvy enough to turn around and ask you the same thing. It’s probably the fastest example of “what comes around, goes around.”
Finally, if you do make a contact or get a request for assistance from someone, act fast—like within 48 hours. Just get that email or phone call out of the way ASAP. It shows your new friend that you’re effective and reliable, which I think we can all agree is a good recommendation to get.
2. I have to sell my product or idea to others for the first time. Help!
First thing’s first: what are you selling? You must be able to explain what you do and the value of what you do in under 30 seconds to a person with little to no background in your field. If you can’t do this, practice and get feedback from your friends. Iron out the confusing parts.
Remember that you’ll always be selling yourself to some extent. So, be passionate about what you do—impress upon people that you care deeply about what you do and demonstrate that you take it seriously. Much of the impression that you’ll make will be non-verbal. And if you sell something that others can’t completely understand, like technology or professional services, this is even more important. Others won’t be able to judge your skills, but they will make a judgment about whether they feel that they like, know, and trust you.
There are resources, too. Check out the SBA’s mentoring program. And consider whether you could make a video that helps you describe what you do or sell. You may be able to make a much more meaningful impression in the same amount of time.
If you want to hear more or throw in your two cents, join us at Meetup!