Thursday, February 12, 2009

Converting Connections into Business - Jen Harwood

This week, I'd like to introduce a "guest" blog from Jen Harwood, Business Champion. Recently, Jen wrote a piece about the importance of connections for business, which she kindly agreed to post here:

By Jen Harwood, Business Champion

How do you convert casual conversations with total strangers into new business? This article will look at the five types of people you will meet at networking events and suggest how to connect, build credibility and convert conversations into business. 

They are: Leads – people who are in your target market. They fit your ideal customer profile and in conversation you will immediately connect them with your product or service. To convert the conversation you could say, “I think I can help you with that. Would you like to talk further now or make a time for us to meet?” If they want more conversation, have it and ask for their business card. If not, try to make an appointment on the spot. The desired outcome of meeting leads at networking events is to build credibility and then convert business opportunities. 

Contacts – people who you already know, although they may not remember what you offer. You can build credibility by sharing results from other clients and demonstrating your expertise in your field As you know them, your interest and questioning will be more relaxed. With contacts you can launch straight into a conversion conversation. For example… “ So Dave, when are you going to let me re-finance your home?” 

Referrers – people who want to recommend you to their network. These people build their own credibility by recommending you. They tend to watch you, to see if you are consistent with your words, actions and results. Once they approve you and your product/service they ask for your card and then distribute your details to their network. A referrer is a valuable asset and your goal is to have many. Keep them up to date with the results of the introductions they make. Let them know you are serving their network and thank them often. 

Promoters – people who appreciate you and what you offer. Sometimes these people are called raving FANS. They are your unpaid marketing and PR team. When you meet a promoter, you’ll know. They get excited about what you do/offer and then will talk you up and generally create a positive impression of you. The key is to make sure the message they give out is correct. You must speak clearly and confidently as they will take your message and broadcast it to everyone. Also remember promoters like to promote. Share your results with them (with permission from your clients) as they are likely to promote your results as well. 

Extras – it’s hard to remember this group of people as the first four sound so good for creating business. They are often not recognised by you as you are focusing on your STARS - leads, contacts, referrers and promoters. The Extras… wives standing next to their husband (or vice versa), a young person hanging about, a grandmother waiting for her daughter to finish a conversation, a smart 10 year-old who asks too many questions, a shy person or even a person who is inappropriately dressed. These people are often the KEY to your success. The Extras watch and listen to everything. They are the people who influence and reinforce. Look for, speak to and connect with them. Know that they will listen for the best interest of the STAR and if they are satisfied and choose to trust you, they will playback to the STAR your key points later highlighting your benefits. 

 After an event, follow up with all the people you collected a business card from. You can call, email or link with them online through tools such as The follow up is most important as most people forget what they heard. So when they are back at work, the problem they have still needs to be addressed and when you make contact, they will be open and respond. One last thing, if you forgot to follow up a few people after an event, don’t worry. The length of time is not an issue if you call or email them and say… “I met you at xxx event some time ago and I’ve been meaning to contact you. I’m contacting you now to ask you xxx or invite you out for a coffee to talk about xxx. Would you be interested?” In my experience most people are fine with this approach. 

 All you have to do is remember to make the connection, build your credibility, meet with them and then convert ideas and opportunities into business. If you stick to that order, you will have great success.

Jen Harwood is Australia's Business Champion, International Business Speaker and Author. Jen speaks at conferences and events motivating business owners and their teams on how to network, increase sales & profit and working together effectively. Check out how Jen can make your next conference ROCK for your audiences.