One way to bring in new business is to attend networking meetings. Typically held before the working day starts, they bring local businesses together with a view of building working relationships.
Typically, networking events provide the opportunity for members to present a one or two minute “pitch”, during which you introduce yourself, your business and provide a short explanation of what you do.
If you attend – or have attended networking events – you’ll probably have noticed that there are some within the group who stand out. Perhaps they have the most engaging “pitch” and are the person everyone gravitates towards to provide business leads.
So, what’s their secret? Often, it’s nothing that can’t be learnt. They have simply taken the time to develop their presentation and networking skills. So, read on to discover five tips that could help you be an outstanding networker, allowing you to generate more business for you and your company.
1. Make room in your diary to do your homework
Find out about the people in the networking group, what their business does, and how you may be able to work together to benefit each other.
A financial planner, for example, could help a legal professional who writes wills ensure their client is maximising bona fide gifts that might reduce exposure to Inheritance Tax (IHT). This means there could be an opportunity to provide additional value to clients wanting to use your will writing service.
Don’t just rely on Google – talk to other members of the networking group to discover more about the networking group member, such as how they like to work, their level of competence and what they do outside of work.
You may discover you share a common interest that you can use to develop a conversation. Remember, anyone you recommend to a client is a reflection on you, so be sure their service and knowledge level is as high as you’d want it to be. If it isn’t, it could reflect poorly on you.
2. Follow the news to generate dialogue with those you want to work with
Follow the news to identify issues that may impact network group members you are eager to speak with. This creates an opportunity for dialogue, allowing you to discuss ways you might be able to work with the individual to improve the service they offer to their clients.
3. Arrange follow-upe-to-one coffee meetings
Once you have started an initial conversation, follow it up with a coffee meeting. It is a more non-committal type of one-to-one meeting and allows you to explore how you could work together in a more relaxed setting.
4. Make your pitch or presentation different from the rest
Nothing will lose your fellow networkers’ interest like a pitch or presentation that is monotonous, long and not relevant to them.
As financial planners we understand how bombarding audiences with tax rates and technical solutions can make their eyes glaze over. Concentrate on presenting the outcome, not how it’s achieved.
Your aim is to have members of the group saying to themselves: “I’d like to know more”, or “How did they do that, and can they do that for my clients?” when you’ve finished your pitch or presentation.
An effective way of achieving this is to introduce the issue or problem you want to highlight, tell a short story about it, and then finish with a “hook”. A hook is when you tell the group the outcome without going into detail about how it was achieved.
Remember, you want the group to be wondering how you achieved it.
So, if you are a legal professional dealing with wills, for example, you could use a problem, story and hook in the following way:
“According to research, nearly 60% of people in Britain still don’t have a will in place, which means their family are likely to face increased cost and delays in accessing their estate.
“I recently represented a family who were facing this situation after a loved one died with no will. When they approached me, they were dealing with additional stress and upset at an already difficult time.
“Once I had successfully dealt with the immediate issue of accessing the deceased’s estate, I worked with the family to ensure no other member faced the same problems again.
“Now they have peace of mind that they could potentially receive more money, more quickly and without the stress and worries they were dealing with when they approached me.”
5. Write your presentation and practice it – again and again
Practising means you do not overrun your allocated time, forget your presentation or lose your way halfway through it. Consequently, you will look more professional and confident, as well as ensuring you get your main messages across.
Take time also to consider the sort of questions the networking group may ask, to make sure you’re never stuck for an answer, and have a good example or story to back up your point.
Get in touch
If you would like to discuss ways we might be able to work with you to help your clients, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01904 655 330.
This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation which is subject to change.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.