Two people meet at a networking event. We’ll call them Bob and Ralph. Through conversation they realize that Bob is familiar with Ralph’s family’s business. Bob had worked with that company for years before it closed. And Bob has fond memories of working with them.
After the event, Bob receives an email from Ralph. Bob realizes that it’s a pitch email and is obviously a form letter. Nowhere in the email is there any mention of the connection Bob and Ralph discovered.
Even though it’s a pitch email, Bob responds to it letting Ralph know that he’s busy through next week and requesting a follow up after that. Bob never hears from Ralph again.
Okay. Let’s dissect this. First of all, Ralph didn’t appreciate the actual connection he had made with Bob. He simply threw Bob into his email marketing list and moved on. Then, when Bob responded, Ralph was radio silent.
Nothing about this outreach is authentic. Rather, it is totally automated. Somewhere along the way Ralph adopted a practice of meeting people, adding them to his CRM, and letting the automated system do all of the outreach. Not surprisingly, Ralph struggles to build his business.
What should Ralph have done? Ralph should have reached out to Bob with an authentic message telling him how much he enjoyed meeting him and talking about the family business. He should have expressed interest in learning more about Bob and suggested a call or meeting. And Ralph most definitely should have responded to the email he received from Bob.
Instead, Ralph telegraphed that he was fishing for leads. Period. He wasn’t interested in learning about the people he was meeting. He wasn’t curious about who they were or if the even needed what he had to offer. His mindset was one of ‘get the meeting, make the sale.’ That mindset just doesn’t work.
The moral of the story is this: When you network, do it with the goal of learning something about someone else. Be curious. Seek to build relationships with people regardless of whether they might be a prospect. And choose authentic outreach every time. It’ll make the difference between building your business or building a reputation as a salesman.
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