What would you say is the appropriate way to approach someone you would like to meet with? Would it be, a) send numerous messages telling them how great you are and why they need to meet with you? b) send a message or an email asking how business is going? c) send a message stating how much you like their LinkedIn or Facebook page and suggest we meet to learn about one another? My feeling is that a) is not okay at all. While b) is okay, c) is the most engaging and would entice me the most and want to actually connect with that person.

Likewise, if I have met someone at a networking event, it would be appropriate to reach out and suggest we meet for coffee. What I find inappropriate is being spammed with messages or emails asking why I haven’t responded. If you’re like most people, we make time for those who are professional and operate in business-like manner. It is not okay, to spam people when there was no business being transacted or any such agreement to do business? Perhaps you experienced this from someone you have literally never met? I don’t know about you, but I do find that this type of behaviour is unprofessional and ineffective.

In my mind, if you’re doing a good job with your business and you’re a trusted professional within your industry, people will come to you. Gone are the days of cold calling and hounding people with sales pitches and pushy sales tactics. In my opinion, they don’t work and quite frankly, they tend to leave a bad taste in one’s mouth. Let’s face it that is the last thing you want when you’re growing your business.

Given my experience with running a business, leading a team and being a busy mom, I will reach out when I need someone’s services or a product. Trust me, I’m a big fan of hiring others to do the things I’m not good at! Generally, I will go by referral, meaning, I will ask friends or fellow colleagues within my business community for their recommendations, rather than just hiring someone wily-nily! Here’s another angle, if the energy we are putting out to people consists of pushiness or you’re too intense, the recipient may not be as quick to respond to you. As human beings, we want to feel like we have options or a choice in the matter. None of us ever want to feel like we have to “buy” something or do something, just to get someone off your back. What does that create? It can create resentment and buyer’s remorse which is never a good thing at all.

So what are the rules?

  1. Connect via email or phone call.

    After a networking meeting or event, it’s absolutely crucial to stay in touch with people you met briefly and invite them to have a coffee. The key is to show that you would like to learn about them, their business and likewise, you would like to see if there is a connection.

  2. Seek to build a relationship.

    The only intention for your coffee meeting should be to learn more about the person, their business and how you might be able to refer them. Please and I repeat, please refrain from selling or going into this meeting with a pitch deck as to how that individual can do business with you. This is unsolicited selling and will likely create a bit of angst or worse, you may never hear from that person again. 

  3. Give a bit of space.

    That’s right, give space and talk about things outside of business because that will allow you and them to relax, be yourselves and help build rapport. Engage with them in their stories or tell a few stories of your own. Storytelling is a powerful way to relate and connect with others. It’s a way to influence their feelings about you and your business, by letting them see your human side. 

  4. Gift them with something priceless.

    We all enjoy being listened to and feeling heard. So do that. Listen, give them your time and energy, and ask them questions to learn more about them and what they do. You may even want share an idea that has helped you and may help them. You’ll be memorable and they’ll be much more motivated to reach out to you the next time they or someone they know needs a service or product that you offer.

  5. Stay connected in various ways.

    We all know the importance of supporting others especially in business, there are a number of ways we can do this. Through social media, like, share, follow and engage with others. After meeting with someone, if you don’t see them often at events, make sure you reach out a month or so after you met to check in with them. Let them know that you’re following them on social media and you like what they’re doing! This can be a way to stay connected and grow the business relationship over time. Again, seek to build a relationship.

In closing, while we all need to drive our business forward and get new leads, there are so many ways to market your business without being pushy. Make the most of all your interactions, whether over the phone, at a networking event or in a one-to-one meeting. This is the time to share, ask questions, listen and pay close attention to their body language. If they are leaning in, it’s quite likely that you’ve got their attention, there is a connection building and guess what? The next time they need a service that you offer, they may reach out and do business with you. At the very least, you’ll be top of mind because of how the interaction went.

Did you find these tips helpful? Let us know and feel free to share this blog post with others if you like it!

Meow for now!

Heather Wilson, ATC, Founder

Cheetah Fusion Creative Agency 

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