Making Networking Work

Potential clients are everywhere. Don’t scare them away with the wrong approach.

Here’s the scenario:

You‘re at a gathering and you come across someone who would be a perfect client for your business. You engage in a conversation and the inevitable question comes up. “What do you do?”

You get excited, your eyes light up. “This is it, this is my shot, I’ll get him now” is the thought racing through your mind.

“Well, I am a small business coach.” You say as you anxiously await for him to tell you how you are the answer to his prayers.

“Oh, I see… uh… I think I left the lights on in my car… uh… it was nice talking to you, bye”

And you watch your perfect client rush away to find someone else to talk to.

It’s important that you are able to communicate what you do in ways that will help your prospective client understand that you are a solution to his problem. How you position yourself is the difference between getting that “deer stuck in the headlight” look from your prospect or having someone ask you for more information.

Positioning revolves around your core marketing message that clearly states who you work with, what problems you solve, what solutions you provide, what benefits you offer, what results you produce, what guarantee you give and what is unique and special about your particular service. Positioning is the foundation that you build the rest of your marketing upon.

Here are two things that you must NOT do:

Do not use your label, this is a sure-fire way of ending a conversation quickly. How many times have you told someone, “I’m a coach” and they say “oh, what team?” or “how nice” and they quickly change the subject. Chances are that when you open with your label, if you get a continued conversation, that person is only being polite.

Do not use the process. For instance, a coach might say:

“I help people discover their excellence by co-creating the positive environment needed for a powerful conversation by having a two-way structured dialogical process that goes beyond basic listening skills and includes multilevel hearing and co-active interaction by the coach.”

If your strategy is to have the “deer in the headlights” look in every prospect’s eyes, well this is the one for you.

When you, the business owner communicate the process of what you do, you are still not reaching your prospect by communicating what’s in it for them. They will be confused and they will run as fast as they can.

Package your services verbally so that you can communicate in a crystal-clear fashion what you can do for your prospective client in a nutshell.

Here is one thing that you MUST do:

Communicate the problem, then the solution. This approach works so well because people are living in, thinking about and totally immersed in their problems. So, if you relay a problem clearly and quickly and show that you do indeed understand that, you’ll get their full attention in a heartbeat.

Be as specific as possible.

“I work with organizations that are facing the many challenges of the slow economy.” Will not get you the same result as, “I work with small to mid-sized business owners who are struggling to get clients”.

Now, you’re getting someone’s attention.

Then you follow up with the flip-side of the problem… the solution. If you can now show your prospect through logic, examples, testimonials and case studies that you do indeed have a solid solution to this problem, you will get that person’s ear…and business.

Here is an example of a good answer to “what do you do?”:

“You know how a lot of small businesses struggle to find new clients? I have a service that guarantees them new clients.”


You’ve gotten their attention. You notice now that their body language changes. They lean toward you as they talk, there is a warm glow in their eyes. You’re speaking to a small business owner who happens to be struggling to find new clients. He asks you “How do you help small businesses get clients?”

“Good question…”, you say.

Again, I caution you to stay away from your process. Continue talking about the benefits that working with you provide.

The processes are for later… much later.

If you remember that this is about your customer, and not about you, and you engage your prospect by asking connecting questions about their problems and linking them to the benefits of working with you; you will have the perfect opportunity to explore a great business relationship.

Copyright – 2003 – Irene Brooks

Irene Brooks is President of 3-D Success Partners. You can contact Irene through her web site at, by calling 919-894-1732 or by e-mail at

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