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“they’re not my type!” why networking without your ideal client still a good thing.

If you choose to spend an hour of your precious time networking, you want to make it count. But how can you place a value on it? What metrics are you going to use to quantify how useful that hour has been. Especially if the people in the room aren’t your ideal client.

“They are not my type.”

“I won’t get business from them.”

“I doubt they can help me.”

Thing is, networking can be like dating. You want to find a special someone with whom you click and build long lasting relationships that are mutually beneficial. You’ve got a list of qualities for your ideal partner, and an ideal client profile. The similarities are endless.

Or are they?

you’re not networking to find the one

It’s time to move on from that overused dating analogy. You’re not networking to find the one. And when you walk into a meeting of people who AREN’T your ideal client, don’t start thinking that it’s the end of the world or a waste of time.

Business networking is about finding a community, growing a network of people who really know you and what you can do. It’s about asking questions, swapping war stories, and getting to know other people.

It’s not about selling to the people in the room. (In fact, it’s not about selling at all.)

If we’re going to use the dating analogy, you wouldn’t ask someone to marry you before you’ve even been out to dinner. You need people to get to know you before they will use your services, so don’t jump straight into a sales pitch. It’s not going to go well for you.

people who know people

Like a date you need to be interested, engaging and polite throughout. Make sure that you give the people in the room your undivided attention.

But unlike a date, you shouldn’t be focused on sealing the deal with the people in the room with you. Just to repeat that message… networking is not about what you can get from the people in front of you.

The likelihood of finding someone your ideal client in a networking meeting isn’t huge. And you may well be networking with people who are not going to buy from you. But what you need to remember is that people do not exist in a vacuum. Who is in their mental rolodex? Their little black book of business buddies?

In other words, who do they know that they can refer you to? And more importantly, who do you know that you can refer them to?

don’t judge a book by its cover

Just because someone doesn’t look useful to you and your business, doesn’t mean that you can dismiss them out of hand. Firstly, because that’s a totally unacceptable and selfish move. People are spending their time with you, the least you can do is engage and communicate.

And secondly, you never know who they might know. So, it’s in your best interest to put your best foot forward at all times. Web designer Dan learned this lesson the hard way.

“When I first started networking, I really thought I was going to score the perfect client in the first meeting I went to.  I just assumed that I would do my pitch and clients would come flocking. And when they didn’t, it was a shock to the system!

“I’d niched down to quite a specific ideal client, and they just weren’t at the meetings I was at. So, I disengaged and stopped networking because it felt like a waste of time. Only to see members of the group recommending other web designers to my ideal client on LinkedIn posts.

“I realised that I’d shot myself in the foot. Just because the other members weren’t my ideal client, I’d thrown my toys out of my pram. Instead, I could have made some great new business connections, given and received a tonne of useful advice, and found some brilliant partnership opportunities.

“You can’t make any assumptions. You never know who your contacts might know.”

it’s not about finding the “one”

Rather than finding the one, business networking is about finding the many. Building a community of business connections that you know and respect. People you could recommend for work with confidence and would recommend you without hesitation. It’s not about finding the one in the networking room and flogging your business to them.

So, engage and ask questions. Be a good listener and referral partner. You never know who people know.

Have you had a referral from someone who seemed completely wrong for your business at the start of the conversation? Share your stories with us over on FacebookLinkedIn or Twitter. We’d love to hear from you. 

And if you’re still looking to build that community, why not hop onto meeow and book your next meeting right now? 

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