I have written a few posts about networking, and how important it is for very small businesses to do, both online and offline.
I don’t do it because I need friends. Though making friends is sometimes a happy bonus!
Neither do it for the quality of the coffee and breakfast. Though some of the venues do this exceptionally well!
As an Extrovert, according to the Myers Briggs Personality Type assessment, I do find that regular interaction with other people through networking gives me my ‘people fix’ that uplifts and energises me.
Networking gives me a chance to communicate who I am. We talk often about people buying from people, so meeting and talking with them enables potential clients to decide if I am the right person for them to spend their hard earned cash with.
But the hidden value for me is in the unexpected little gems that often come out of the most seemingly ordinary conversations.
The questions people ask give you a clue to how you need to tailor your own message.
If you are listening, your networking conversations give you a clear idea of what your customers really need and want.
These conversations give you a chance to spot what, and how, you need to be communicating in order to make it easier for people to buy from you.
My most recent hidden gem was delivered to me during a conversation with someone who was asking how my social media packages work in practice. They were intrigued, but a little sceptical, and raised a legitimate concern.
When I responded with ‘Oh, but I don’t pretend to be you, I get to know you and your business so that I can represent you’, their face lit up.
Suddenly it made sense. Suddenly it was something that added value and felt authentic.
This was not a conversation with a ‘prospect’, it was just a chat to get to know each other. This particular business owner is not ready to take the step of building their online presence yet, but as a result of our conversation, their position has moved from deciding it is not for them, to considering outsourcing as a way of achieving their objectives in an authentic way, without the time commitment.
This shift came from a simple throw away comment that shed a great deal of light.
The gem sparkling in this new light was so valuable that I now make sure I address this legitimate concern whenever I am talking to potential clients.
Oh, and if anyone’s interested, I’m a Myers Briggs ENFJ, known as ‘the great communicator’, with my focus on other people, and on understanding other people.
Many years ago when I did this assessment, communications was part of my role. It now is my role, and I love it because it is just me being myself.