The next time you go to a networking event, keep the following in mind: As you survey all of the other attendees, would you rather have them as clients or as ambassadors?
If you want clients, get busy cornering each one, probing for needs, overcoming objections, and wrestling them to the ground in order to make the sale.
Advantages: It brings in the money over the short term. As long as new people keep showing up (or you keep moving to new venues) there will always be more sheep to shear.
Disadvantages: It destroys your reputation (unless you like the “snake oil salesman” reputation). You lose the respect of those around you (and yourself, truth be told). You will have no successful long-term relationships since everyone looks like a target to you.
If you want ambassadors, start asking questions and being interested in their needs. Try to find ways to serve them and to bring value to their lives. Make an effort to continue to connect regularly.
Advantages: Mutually beneficial, long-term relationships. Each “ambassador” will be looking for opportunities to connect people to you. It’s a heck of a lot more fun than “selling”. Over the long-term, the business will be of a higher quality and require less effort to service.
Disadvantages: It takes time, patience, and a certain amount of faith that the process will work.
So, when you walk through the door to start engaging your ellow attendees, be sure your actions match up with your desired end results.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrishambly/ / CC BY 2.0