A Networking Story


When you’re at a networking event and you meet someone who works in an entirely different industry, what do you do? I’m sure many of us would be inclined to say “nice to meet you” and move on to someone more “relevant.” If you find yourself in this situation, don’t walk away. Here’s a story that demonstrates the value of making non-industry connections:

A couple years ago, I met a colleague for lunch and he looked very downtrodden. I said, “Hey, what’s going on?” He said, “Last night I went to this trade org event. I just wasted my time.” I said, “What are you talking about? You’re usually so upbeat and that audience is full of prospects for you.” He continued with exasperation, “I spent 20 minutes pitching to a guy and then I asked, ‘What do you do?’ and he said, ‘I sell rugs.’ I wasted 20 minutes of my networking time talking to a guy who sells rugs!”

There are two aspects of this story worth noting. First, if you knew ahead of time that this person sold carpet, would you have used a different elevator pitch and/or spent a different amount of your valuable networking time? Second, what might that new and improved elevator pitch have been? Here’s how the interaction should have gone:

“Hey, how are you doing? I’m John.” 
“I’m Bill.” 
“Hello, Bill. So what brings you to this event tonight?” 
“I work for XYZ Carpets.”
“Oh, I guess you sell rugs.”
“Yes. We do.” 
“Whom do you sell to?” 
“Commercial offices, mostly.” 
“Aha. You know I sell to a lot of commercial office buildings as well. Who are some of your favorite clients around town?”
“Equity Office and Boston Properties.” 
“So I bet you do work for Tom at Embarcadero Four?” 
“Oh yeah. We helped him with several tenant fit-outs last year. He’s a great guy.”
“Wow, Tom. I’ve known him for years. Who else do you sell to?  I bet we sell to a lot of the same folks…”

Before long, you’ll be exchanging business cards and perhaps even working out a deal to swap leads, cross-promoting each other’s services. Now that’s how it’s supposed to work. 

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By info@SellingEnergy.com (Mark Jewell, CEO of Selling Energy | www.SellingEnergy.com) | | networking |
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