Business Networking – How To Effectively Compete When You Are Networking In A Non-Profession Exclusive Group
As many BNI Members know, BNI (Business Network International) arguably offers the very best Business Networking training to its Members in the art and science of Business Networking. Personally, the training and guidance that I received in my 5½ years with BNI has been nothing short than life changing for me. Learning and mastering Dr. Ivan Misner’s techniques of accelerating relationship building is the most important factor in my 13 years of success in my computer repair and computer help support business. Without this education and training, I would have surely failed.
But what do you do when you are outside the confines of your BNI Chapter? You know, in the real world where there may be, in my case, two or three other computer guys in the room.
How do you compete with that? The answer is quite simple.
But first, let’s talk about what not to do.
First, don’t get up tight and defensive. People can sense this. Yes, it’s disconcerting at first to realize you are not the only one who, in my case, “sells” computer services. You must get a grip and realize that the way you render your services really is quite different than any of your competitors.
Secondly, don’t resort to price competition. Simply stating that you are cheaper than anyone else is only going to bring you short term customers who will quickly move on to the next service professional who may be cheaper than you the next time they have a need. In the service business, price is much further along in the sales process as it should be. People hire service professionals based on “Know, Like and Trust” and then price.
Thirdly, don’t make the mistake of not observing how your competition presents themselves. Remember, it’s not about you! It’s about your prospective customers and potential referral sources. You can learn a lot about your competitors by watching how they present themselves.
Listen carefully to what they say and how they say it. Pay close attention to their entire presentation “package” – How they look; How they say what say; Be keenly aware of their body language; Watch their audience’s reactions as they speak and interact with others. With a little time spent observing and talking with your competition, you’ll be amazed how much you’ll learn.
Ok, so what should you do with this observed competitor “intel” ? First things first.
First, adjust your own emotional attitude about competitors being present. You should truly be glad that they are present. If you are mentally defensive, trust me, it will show and you’ll be think more about how you feel vs. what you should do. You should openly embrace your business networking competitors. Your frame of mind is the most important thing to adjust.
Secondly, you need to show your audience that the services you offer are different than anyone else in the room. Though everyone says they want to save a buck but, in reality, price is usually the last consideration before someone hires a service professional. The most important factors are they need to Know, Like and Trust you first, long before price comes into the picture. (Yes, this was worth repeating.)
In a technical service industry, like the computer repair and network support business, most consumers are afraid of the technical stuff. They need to feel comfortable that YOU are the right person and the process of working with you will be painless; maybe even enjoyable.
Thirdly, Do Not use any technical jargon, what-so-ever, unless it’s absolutely necessary. If you do, you should give a very simple explanation of each term, etc. Speak to their fears. Use simple language when describing what you do and, above all, comfort them that they have nothing to worry about if they use your services. Your message must convince them that you, personally, will take great care of them and their issues. For example, one of the most successful insurance companies on the planet, Allstate, tells their audience that they are “In Good Hands”. You need to communicate this same message too.
So the next time you are doing your Business Networking thing and or avoiding going to networking events because there may be competition there, remember the following:
- Go with the idea that you are there to learn about other people including your competitors and, yeah, to have an enjoyable time.
- Use your Business Networking skill set and do some reconnaissance. Learn how to best differentiate yourself from your competition in ways that are important to your potential customers.
- When you have an opportunity to get in front of a prospective customer and or referral source don’t use industry jargon, ask questions and speak to their concerns.
- If you find yourself talking “price” right away, you’re probably not in front of the right prospect anyway. Move on and adjust your approach.
I hope you found this article informative and useful at the same time.
Jeff Manz – the Computer Guy Extraordinaire
The Business Connection Co-Founder – Palm Beach, Broward, Dade, Martin County