By Andy and Mia Torr

Have you ever attended networking events and been frustrated when you can’t land any clients, or even prospects?

Done right, networking is one of the fastest paths to getting new clients. But done wrong, it can burn through your time, money, relationships — and your reputation.

To turn things around, there’s one key networking strategy that will dramatically improve your results.

Stop treating everyone as a potential client.

Instead of hunting for the tiny percentage of people who are interested in your services right now, begin treating all networking relationships as valuable.

Successful advisors spend their networking time sorting, not selling. Your network will grow faster by building diverse strategic relationships than by trying to sell to everybody.

Networking contacts fall into five relationship categories, and you need all of them to benefit your business:

1. The Potential Client: Someone who lights up and demonstrates a clear need for your services. Your job is to add value to the relationship and seek permission to follow up.

2. The Referral Partner: This person might casually introduce you to someone they know who needs your help. Or, they might serve a similar client base, and you can share referrals both ways. Referral partners might include accountants, mortgage brokers, coaches, lawyers, or even marriage counsellors.

3. The Collaborator: Someone with whom you could work together on a project, such as an event, workshop, or podcast. Collaborations can bring you powerful visibility.

4. The Supporter: Anyone who helps you keep your sanity. They often provide an essential service, such as business coaching, bookkeeping, house cleaning, or tax advice. A supporter is also anyone who encourages and promotes you enthusiastically. (Don’t we all need those people?)

5. The Influencer: Someone who leads a large audience of your ideal clients. Having an influencer’s endorsement is like a gold stamp on your personal brand.

To make this strategy work for you, at your next networking event, sort the people you meet into one of the five categories:

Client, referral partner, collaborator, supporter, or influencer.

Keep in mind that we live in a relationship economy, so nurture all your business relationships. By adding value first, you can confidently transition to a sales conversation and watch your business grow.

Andy and Mia Torr co-founded Authentic Networker to help service professionals thrive in business by building a thriving network of the right people. Download our Authentic Pitch Formula at authenticnetworker.com/forum. To comment on this article, email dgage@advocis.ca.

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