As part of this Fundamentals of Networking series, I would like to take the opportunity in this Gem to speak a bit more about the stage of Prospecting, before we move onto Inviting. This is because developing and maintaining the ‘Prospecting Mindset’ is so essential and so integral to being a networker.
I mentioned in my previous Gem that networkers should never stop adding to their prospect list. To do this, you must have the right mindset. There is a saying in the network marketing business: ‘If it breathes, it is a prospect.’
The basic rule in prospecting is that you are networking no matter where you are or what you are doing. This doesn’t mean becoming annoying and invasive and continually approaching people about the business, even after they’ve said no. It simply means being friendly. It means speaking to people standing behind you in the queue at the supermarket. It means striking up a conversation with someone sitting next to you on the bus. Get to know the person around you in everyday situations to the point where you could perhaps ask them what they do for a living, or to the point where you could exchange business cards. You can then call them later and invite them to a presentation. It is about talking to people. The more people you talk to, the more opportunity opens up to you. The less you talk, the less you meet. Even if someone you approach says no, you have not lost; you have practised your communication skills, built your confidence in approaching prospects, developed your people skills, and you may have met a new friend or perhaps made a new contact, such as a mechanic, whom you may need to call upon later in life when you have car trouble.
Being a networker means that there is a probing thought constantly playing in the back of one’s mind: ‘Could this person be interested in the business?’ If this question is always on your mind, then you will become more alert to people who would be genuinely interested. It is like switching on your antenna. Think about this… have you ever wanted a new car? And then somehow everywhere you looked, you see that same model of car that you wanted, but no one else really notices it? This is because you are subconsciously thinking of the new car you want and in essence, your antenna is tuned into that car. So, you take notice when you see it. The same applies with networking and prospecting. If you’re not looking, you won’t see. If you are a networker, prospecting becomes part of you.
The definition of prospecting is to identify potential people to join your business. So, this is what you should be doing – all the time. If you are a real estate agent, you will always be on the lookout for good development opportunities and every time you walk into a friend’s house, you will probably mentally appraise the house’s market value. The same applies with almost any profession. In any business, you are always ‘noticing’ and on the lookout for the subject of your profession. In networking, the subject of your profession is everywhere. The subject of your profession is people. This prospecting mindset and your list of prospects are the core principles of being a good networker.
Group Managing Director, QI Ltd