Two Tips for Successful Telephone Networking
I often receive phone calls from people in the kid’s industry. Usually from recruiters, sales managers, entrepreneurs or moms soliciting advice and ostensibly, building their network. These callers speed through the “niceties” portion of the call and, after their lightning-fast self-introduction, I often don’t know the name of who’s calling me, or why they’re calling.
These callers typically expect me to set aside whatever I’m doing, explain the ins and outs of the industry and share everything valuable I’ve learned while running my business. I’ve noticed that most of my callers don’t think about how they can help me out in return…
Here are two very simple tips that are easy to implement and will make anyone a better telephone networker:
- Introduce yourself clearly (slowly), confidently and positively
- Remember that networking is a mutual thing
Have you ever played a voicemail message over and over and over trying to understand the caller’s name, company and phone number?
After listening a few times, you probably wouldn’t even return the call. Getting this sort of call “live” is even tougher. You’re talking to a stranger that wants something from you, and you weren’t able to even get his name. If I’m having a good day (i.e. not crazy busy), I patiently request that my caller repeats himself. If I’m ridiculously swamped—and my patience is nearing the frazzled point—I rattle off my email address at the same high-speed, and request he emails me.
A clear self-introduction takes about 3-5 seconds.
Hi, Is Lara available? (Yes, hello!)
My name is Mary Smithe. I own Smithe Kids’ shoes. Do you have a minute to talk?”
Callers might add where they found my contact information, who referred them to me or why they are calling.
In addition to clarity, callers should be confident and positive. Find another way to let people that you are “a newbie to the business” or “are struggling to find XYZ.”
I established my business two months ago, in May of 2009.”
I’m on a mission to understand XYZ.”
Don’t overstate or exaggerate but do phrase possible negatives in an optimistic way. Most people would rather network with someone who is optimistic about the obstacles they might be facing, rather than defeatist about overcoming them.
Networking is Mutual
Have you ever heard the expression, “He pumped me for information?” It’s usually not said in a positive light. One-on-one networking is about what two people can do for each other, not one person pumping the other for information. If you are calling a total stranger, be prepared to offer something of value—and I don’t mean money! Maybe you have a good network of loan officers, manufacturers, buyers, designers, print companies or a knock-out web guy. Don’t under-sell yourself and think you have nothing to offer.
Another little detail about networking is that it tends to be selfless. Offering to “let me rep your line” benefits you more than it benefits me. Like-wise, if you’re in a field like recruiting, banking or real estate, offering your service is often more beneficial to you than it is to me. You get paid your commission and I get what, an opportunity to help you do that?
Go that extra mile when you network. Pass along names. Refer good websites. Forward blog posts. Announce other peoples’ successes. You won’t always get a “return” from the individual you initially helped but you’ll often get a return from people in their network. Word of mouth is a powerful thing.
What tips do you have for successful networking? Share with us!
Next week… More ways to ensure that a sales rep and your brand are good fit.
Lara owns and is the primary sales rep for LJBryn&Co., a Midwest-based, independent rep group specializing in children’s gift, toys, gear and apparel. www.LJBrynAndCo.com