Previously in Part 1, I shared the methods I used to grow Two Tall Totems’ network in order to market our services. Now that I learned how to turn “no” into “yes!” and have booked my chai chats, what are the best practices to adopt when we sit down together?
Remember my mantra: Marketing is delivering a story so clearly that my chai buddy can retell it in detail multiple times to many people. Unless my tea companion has expressed direct interest in Two Tall Totems’ services, the conversation should never be a sales push, but instead a marketing opportunity; a chance to be positively memorable.
Once you have a yes to meet make sure to connect via LinkedIn.
This allows you to learn about your tea buddy and possibly help direct the conversation. More importantly, their LinkedIn profile will give you insight into their network. Look at their connections and see if there is anyone you would be keen to speak to. Remember these names for later.
Little known fact: Being interesting can be hard work. Think about the questions you will probably be asked and prepare witty answers. Prepare a list of talking points such as the work you have done, recent or local technology headlines, or topics that are in-line with your marketing goals. Talking points are great because they are flexible and provide you with the tools to direct the conversation. This also allows you to work on your company’s “story”, as over time these talking points will evolve based on feedback with each person you meet.
How did they react to this concept? Did they laugh and give positive affirmation? What did they find memorable? Did they repeat it back to you at the end of the coffee chat? Never be afraid to experiment with the wording. A slight vocabulary change and emphasis on a particular word may help your marketing efforts.
Your appearance tells a story.
Ripped clothes means you don’t really care. A nice polo shirt and slacks says that you are a professional (sorry, I only know menswear). You don’t have to wear a suit and tie (or fancy dress), but aim to be the best dressed person at the coffee shop. Your mission is to have your guest remember your story. Don’t let a messy appearance be part of that story.
I know you want to sing praises about your company but it is important that you remember to shut up and listen. This isn’t a qualified sales call. You are marketing your company as a solution provider. It will be hard to recommend you as a problem solver if you don’t wait to hear about the other person’s challenges.
Prepare a set of questions to ask.
In my case, I asked what mobile device do they personally use and their favourite apps. Mobile phones are cherished devices. People enjoy speaking about them. It sounds awful, but I always hoped that my tea buddy had a problem with their mobile phone that I could help them solve quickly. Everyone loves useful free advice. Suggest an iOS app to download, fix their Android phone settings… Make your tea buddy’s daily life better and you will be remembered.
Your companion’s cup of chai is empty and it is time to get back to work. How do you end the conversation?
In Part 1 of this series I shared that my marketing hook was my mission to meet at least three people a week.
This is the best time to throw the ball in your companion’s court.
Ask them for an introduction with the caveat that it will help you with your mission. Tell your guest that you see that they are connected to Mr. X and Ms. Y on LinkedIn. Ask them for an introduction. This is a great way to meet targeted people who you hope could turn into a sales opportunity. The more introductions I successfully received at this last stage, the easier it was for me to continue my mission.
This is an extremely effective way to grow your network. I still use it consistently, especially when I want to extend my network into new cities.