Crafting Effective Networking Strategies Beyond Traditional Networking

In general, networking to increase sales quickly can often be a frustrating undertaking. Many businesspeople join their local chamber of commerce or business networking group and are initially excited at the prospects. But the unfortunate reality is that it often doesn’t live up to expectations; so, we quit and look for another way to drive sales to our business. But wait! 

There are principles of networking that do work – and that are almost opposite to what we may believe about networking.

FACT: PULSE Survey Research by Red Zone Marketing* has shown that networking is consistently one of the top 5 ways financial advisors are bringing on new business. The number 1 method is unsolicited referrals.

Part 1: Build Connections Not Prospects and Stop Networking!

The goal isn’t to be the winner of the most business cards received at an event. That

just gives you more cold-prospecting and follow-up to do after an event. 

The goal is to make connections with those that can introduce you to others based on their network. 

The focus of networking also should not be on gaining an immediate sale from the people you talk to. In fact, that tactic almost never works. Instead, success tends to come from focusing on building a referral relationship – one that turns into a referral connection, serving as a conduit to other customers. 

Think about building a mutually beneficial relationship with someone who may never even buy your product or service but can help connect you to those who can. 

Sometimes, focusing on the immediate sale causes you to miss a lot of future opportunities. The premise of contrarian networking centers on the fact that networking shouldn’t be to sell at all – but connect.

Part 2: Contrarian Networking Methods to Building Your Connections

1. Build Quality Relationships. 

Take time to deepen your relationships with referral sources. Invite them to social functions, learn their hobbies and interests, and help them pursue their personal goals.

2. Network in New Places. 

Look for new areas to find referral partners with common interests. Don’t prospect right away; let the relationship mature.

3. Focus on Others. 

Adopt a “What can I do for this person?” mindset. Always give to others, and be known for this.

4. Giving Is the Way To Be Remembered. 

Giving is the greatest reward. But this isn’t the most common type of networking, and it may not be what we think of when we engage in these kinds of activities. Many successful connectors have built their entire client base through giving (not asking or selling). This giving strategy is all about giving referrals, giving help to others, giving business building help to others. The result is that they give back. 1000 times over! 

Part 3: What To Say When Someone Asks About You?

Every firm needs to have a refined firm story to assist in marketing and client acquisition. But there is a serious need to have a compelling opening line for your firm story – probably several of them. Without something compelling (to them), you may never get the chance to share your story. Even the classic elevator pitch is too gimmicky for an informal initial introduction. In a world of ever-decreasing attention spans, less is definitely more.

A solution for compelling others to want to listen to you is to develop a 15-20 second Simple, Repeatable, Statement of Value (SRSV) for each target audience. An SRSV is a statement that is easy to remember and shares some value directly for the person you are speaking with. Below is the 4-step formula for building your own SRSV. Your SRSV may not include the answer to every question, and it doesn’t have to be compiled in this order.

Develop your 15 second simple, repeatable statement of value (SRSV).

Answer the following questions:

1. What are their needs, wants, challenges, problems, questions, and interests?

2. What you do?

3. What is your memorable differentiator?

Here are some financial advisor examples:

Financial Advisor Example 1: “I work with family-owned businesses helping them pay less in taxes and protect their assets. I specifically work with those with serious profit problems… those with big profits.”

Financial Advisor Example 2: “I’m a financial advisor and our firm works with families to help them reduce risk and protect their legacy. We work with some of the wealthiest families in Chicago – in money and values. Our business is built solely on the introductions from our current clients and their advisors.

Financial Advisor Example 3: “I am a financial advisor with XYZ firm. We specialize in working with corporate executives getting ready to retire from Pfizer.

Financial Advisor Example 4: “I am a financial advisor. We work with a lot of teachers right here in this county and have found that many of them have been making mistakes on their 403b selections…

And here is mine: “I own a marketing consulting firm, Red Zone Marketing, focused on helping successful organizations find even more business and opportunities. I’ve worked with an NBA basketball team, a US Senator, financial advisors and asset managers. I’ve even closed a sale while upside down in a biplane at 3,000 feet above ground.”

Part 4: Create a Contrarian Networking Plan of Action

Have a plan of action before you go to any event. The goal – to meet connections and

future advocates – not to make immediate sales.

1. Find out who’s attending.

Ask the host or organization for a list, ask others, check emails for others attending.

2. Who do you want to meet at the event?

Make a list of the top 5 (don’t avoid the big names).

3. Research people you may be attending by searching on Google and LinkedIn.

4. Find The Meeting Organizer.

If you can’t find out who will be in attendance, when you get there, find the meeting

organizer. Introduce yourself and ask who he/she thinks you should get to know at

the meeting. Oftentimes they will take you to someone and make the introduction for

you (it’s a lot better than standing by the drink table or door all by yourself).

5. At the event, let them do the talking (You ask the questions!).

Once introductions are made, you can move on to more in-depth business questions:

• What’s makes a good client for you?

• What’s the best thing that has happened to your business this year?

• What’s one thing you’ve done that has really changed your career?

• What will you never do again in business?

• What’s your biggest challenge?

• What do you find is the most effective way to keep a client happy?

• …Then follow up with secondary questions.

6. Post Event Follow Up

Spend ten minutes after the event cementing your connections by adding to your

CRM all of the connections you’ve made. Include reminders to yourself of interesting or remarkable things people said, or that you learned so that you won’t forget them and can refer back to them in later conversations. Use email and/or LinkedIn to keep in touch.

Networking is important, even if you are an introvert. It is one of the best ways of sharing your expertise, while creating valuable relationships with prospects and centers of influence. Try it! It just may be the boost your business needs.

*PULSE Survey completed Dec 2023

Related: How to Convert Your Unsolicited Referrals