One of the most common business development mistakes made in professional services, by fee-earners as well as marketing and sales teams, is confusing a networking event with a sales pitch.

Why is this?

Think about the last networking event you went to. Whether an industry summit, evening drinks, or simply a team on team event organised by a colleague.

When you sat down at your desk the following morning, business cards in hand, whose details did you want to enter into the CRM in front of you?

The person who spent fifteen minutes hard selling their latest product to you over the second drink of the evening. Or the person that built a rapport with, asked good, open questions and seemed genuinely bright and enthusiastic in front of you?

(TIP – it generally is the latter…)

Whilst here are always exceptions to any rule, try not to be the person who spends every networking event hard selling, no matter how important the person in front of you might be for your future career.

There is a better way to develop new business

With the teams that I work with, I try and suggest that a better approach is to connect with those in the room who might need what you offer at some point in the future. Which means asking open ended questions (“what are the challenges you currently face” is always a good starter question for example),  and trying to understand more about the person in front of you and the role they play. 

And even if the answer given opens the widest door for your key services possible, don’t be in too much of a hurry to spend the rest of the evening talking about how you can solve it! 

Building contacts is the purpose of networking, not walking out the door with a contract in hand.  That can follow – as we’ll see in some of the later articles in this blog.

If you would like to discuss how I can help you and your fee-earning team build a robust, business development plan, don’t hesitate to get in touch.