How to Create a Visible Business Identity
Networking is the most effective way to help moldmakers establish new business prospects.
Let's face it, in today's super tight economy, the phones just aren't ringing off the hook any more. Mold shops are going out of business, orders are shipped overseas, and woe to the shop owner who doesn't adapt his prospecting strategy to the changing times.
That's where networking comes in. Networking in the get-more-business-by-meeting-more-prospects way, and in the stop-making-cold-calls, no-more-costly-direct-mail way.
For those new to this, don't worry, it's very easy. Basically, you want to network at events where your prospects are most likely to be, and then establish a relationship (which begins with a conversation) that makes them want to do business with you when the time arises. You're not handing out cards to everyone you see, and you're not working the room trying to get an order that day. You're developing a relationship with someone who might give you business later on down the road.
Creating an Identity
This process is called creating a visible identity with everyone you meet. However, like most things in life, this is easier said than done.
First, you need to break some old habits by going out and meeting new people (prospects). Second, when meeting that person, you need to create a positive impression that makes him think of you when it's time to do business.
Some of the ways you can create a visible identity in the mind of the other person is by asking the right questions. Making new business contacts can be a tricky endeavor, especially if you haven't done it in awhile, or if it's your first time. A great way for getting the conversation going is to get the other person talking. And how do you do that? By asking the right questions.
- So you're from Cleveland, huh? How's the economy holding up over there?
- Oh, so you're a Tier 1 automotive supplier? What got you started in that direction?
- Tell me a little bit about what you do? [Response] Oh, ok. So what do you like best about it?
In the world of networking, people are most comfortable talking about themselves or their business. So when meeting someone for the first time, either at a conference or a tradeshow event, gently guide him in the direction he already wants to go.
And don't worry, you'll have some time to talk about yourself as well. However, by asking the right questions, listening to their answers and then talking about yourself, you will create a rock solid impression with everyone you meet.
The 12 x 12 x 12 Rule
This rule is about perception and reality, and how creating a positive perception can greatly impact your overall networking success. Make no mistake about it; first impressions are everything. So you need to make people as comfortable as possible when meeting them for the first time. How? Ask yourself these three questions:
- How do you look from 12 feet away? One of the first questions people ask themselves is do you look the part? In other words, as you approach this new contact, they're looking at your shoes, your shirt, your jacket, and are subconsciously asking themselves if you look like you belong. That's why it's extremely important to dress up a little when meeting new people at a professional networking event. These functions could include local tradeshows, conferences, seminars or any other place where you're representing your business and are likely to run into potential prospects. That might mean putting on a jacket (and possibly a tie) for the men or a nice business suit for the ladies, but either way, being dressed for success will go a long way when meeting someone for the first time.
- How do you look from 12 inches away?
According to a report, 92 percent of all focused, one-on-one communication is transmitted through nonverbal cues. Needless to say, body language is an integral part of our communication process, and it's important to communicate a warm, open message while networking. Making eye contact with an approaching party is a great way of letting that person know you're open for discussion. After doing that, make sure to have a warm, open smile while shaking hands. Studies show that smiling is the single, most positive nonverbal action you can take when meeting someone for the first time.
- What are the first 12 words out of your mouth? You've gotten past the first 12 feet and the first 12 inches, now what do you say? Think about your business, or occupation and see how you could succinctly position it in its most positive light. Don't worry if your answer is a little longer than 12 words; the key is to have something memorable about you and your business that will kick-start the conversation right away.
So when it comes to getting more business and meeting more prospects, just remember to create a visible identity with everyone you meet, and you'll be well on your way toward networking like a pro and gaining business for your shop!
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