I’ve been hosting regular social events for a while now and a conversation has always stuck in my mind. My events are for socialising and meeting new people, and I make it known when promoting that these are not business events and there are no sales pitches allowed.
In the early days, I had a Tupperware consultant message me about setting up her full kit, handing out catalogues, and taking orders at one of my events – essentially turning it into a Tupperware party. Of course I said no because this is absolutely not what these events are about.
Hell, I even use the hashtag #socialnotbusiness in the event description to further get the point across – leave the sales pitch at home ladies…
I’m paraphrasing in the below image but you can get the gist of what her reply was. Why should she waste her time sitting around drinking coffee if she couldn’t sell her ‘business’? In her mind, if she couldn’t be centre stage and in sell mode, then there was no benefit for her.
She didn’t ‘get it’.
And it was one of the best learning moments for me as I realised that this is the attitude of many business owners.
They think they need to be hustling all the damn time.
Since then, where I can, I’ve tried to share my thoughts on this topic with as many business owners as possible. I really believe that face to face networking, in any form, is never a waste of time. And face to face networking when you aren’t in ‘hustle mode’ can, in fact, be far more effective than throwing your business card at people and asking when they’d like to place an order.
Thankfully, the person referred to in this post did come along to drink coffee. And I discovered that she was in fact, a pretty darn cool human! I was able to connect with her on a social level because she wasn’t just ‘the Tupperware lady’.
And yeah, I did end up purchasing some bloody Tupperware once I got to know her (because, #sucker), and I cheered for her when she quit the Tupps life and started an actual legit business of her own.
I wasn’t supporting the business name, I was supporting the business owner.
So you see, you might just think we are sitting around drinking coffee, but it’s a lot deeper than that.
Face to face networking when you can show up as YOU means that you can take off your business hat for a while, and stop seeing the person opposite you as a sales opportunity.
There will be events where you can promote yourself, but there are also events where a sales pitch will be poorly received because it’s not why the other guests are there.
Come along to one of my social events and you’ll notice that I don’t talk about what I sell. I’ll answer questions about why I host the events and what I do if I’m asked, but I never ‘pitch’.
If I’m chatting with a business owner at an event, I don’t want to hear about prices or what packages they have available. I want to know about the person behind the business name.
Connect with people first. Let them get to know you and allow the business to come naturally. Take some time to be yourself and you’ll be surprised at the side effects that can flow onto your business.
You might not notice it straight away, but this networking caper is amount something much deeper than an immediate sale. We are playing the long game here, building relationships, and growing a network.
Social events aren’t about business, but it’s not just about sitting around drinking coffee either.
Extra bonus tip for those who have read this far…
Take this advice into your Facebook Groups people! Join in conversations, comment on posts, share non-business things. Let people get familiar with your name so that when you do post a promo, they will read it because they already feel like they know you and will be automatically more open to receiving your message.