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Rethinking why and where to network.
Its amazing when you have a target market how it changes everything you do. I realized a few weeks ago, some of the networking I was doing was not a good use of my time. The problem was not that there was a lack of good people there, but rather my target market wasn’t there. It was time to adapt. All networking has an expiration date, but this was different. I looked at my sales philosophy, the one written on a sticky note behind my computer that tempers everything I now do, and realized I needed to change how I network. The sticky note reads:
You can only leave the office for two reasons: To be around people who are going to buy my product or to be around people who are around people who are going to buy my product.
That’s it. Everything else is a waste of my time. (It also means I better figure out who is going to buy my product and who is around the people who are going to buy my product. We will get to that.) I realize now I spent a lot of time networking with people who didn’t fit one of those two categories. How did I end up here? I really think it was because I didn’t realize there was a difference between meeting with the right person and just meeting with a person. I have learned that what I was doing was branding, and what I needed to be doing was marketing.
I used to use the terms synonymously, but now I’ve come to realize they are not event in the same department.
First, all marketing departments should change their names to Advertising Department. Then all branding should be put in the advertising department because branding is what you do to get people to remember you. After all, branding started as putting a mark on a cow so you could tell your cow from your neighbor’s cow back before there were barbed wire fences. Branding hasn’t changed much when you think about it. I put my brand (logo) next to my name on my cards so you can tell who I work for. My company made my logo distinct so you can tell my logo from someone else’s, and in turn, know that we are different from others in our industry. I think I just made the analogy that we are all cows, but I digress.
Marketing should then in turn, be removed from the newly named advertising department because marketing is using a different medium to get in front of the people in which you are trying to sell. Its a sales piece. Designed to make sales. At least that is how it should be. So where does that leave us? Since I only leave the office for sales, and marketing is sales, I have no problem, and subsequently neither does my boss, leaving my office to go marketing using the medium of networking.
Real true networking’s definition should look more like this:
Identifying someone who fits the model for being a good client and then going to an event you know they are going to be at with the soul intention of meeting that person or identifying those that have a target market similar to yours, and going to an event you know they are going to be at with the sole intention of meeting them.
Notice how similar that is to my definition of the only reasons I leave my office.
This philosophy has not changed how I network, just where and why. If I am a B2B sales person, why am I in a group of people who only sell B2C? If my perfect contact into a company is a CEO, CFO, or an HR director, being in places where CEOs, CFOs, or HR directors are not, does not get me any closer to a sale. Which consequently, is the entire reason I left work, walked 11 blocks to my car in subzero temperatures and drove 20 minutes to meet with people anyway. I only need to go networking because there is someone I want to meet face to face or there are people there who know personally the CEOs, CFOs, or HR directors I want to know. After all, I can sit at my desk, get on LinkedIn, and find CEO’s to call and talk to about CAN.
Now before I go anywhere, I research who is going to be at a networking event before I commit by looking through the attendee’s list. I only go when they fit my target audience. I also look through my ideal contact’s LinkedIn and see if they are posting where they like to network.
Then all I have to do is show up, ask the ticket-taker who that person is, and remember not to cannonball.