From Networking to Client Lunch to Increase Sales: 3 Easy Steps
Wonder how to convert your networking efforts into increased sales? The results you want will come from an all-important – and too often overlooked – second step: the client lunch. Without creating quality face time, you may as well stay home and give up networking completely. After all, the purpose of networking is not just to build your network; the real purpose is to build your entire business! That means getting to know more people and really build a lasting business relationship … with the ultimate goal of achieving increased sales.
Networking isn’t always easy. You squeeze in time for a certain number of events every month – from Chamber of Commerce meetings to industry-specific mixers and luncheons. It can be hard to pull yourself away from your desk to attend these events, but you hope it will be worth the time, money, and effort. When you get overwhelmed, though, and don’t follow up by inviting new contacts to join you for a client lunch, you are missing out on the increased sales and desired success that motivated you to attend the event in the first place.
There is never enough time to establish a solid or productive new business relationship at most networking events. That is why you should invite any interesting new contact to meet you a few days later for a client lunch. If you want to increase sales, this is a critical step and the very best way to convert your efforts at networking into increased sales. A lot can go wrong at a client lunch IF you are not prepared, which is why I wrote The Art of the Business Lunch and speak on the subject. It’s not just about sharing a meal; it’s about driving your relationships to build your business … ie: INCREASED SALES!
Networking > Client Lunch > Increased Sales
By inviting people you meet at networking events to a client lunch, you’ll pave the way to build the kinds of business relationships that will result in increased sales. Whenever I speak on getting the most out of networking events, I always say, “Imagine that someone in the room has a “$10,000 bill” in their pocket just for you; your job is to find that person and get your money!” I’m being dramatic to illustrate the point. If you think back over your career, I’m sure you can pinpoint the people who have taken your business to a higher level. Now, think of how you met them. The odds are pretty good that you met them either at an event or through another business relationship you have. Networking is a great way to meet people, but the best part about networking is that the more people you know, the more introductions you can get to meet the people who are essential to your business’s success.
Here is the way to capitalize on your networking and how to turn it into a client lunch that will result in increased sales:
Once you meet someone interesting, find out who they know and where they go. In other words, ask them what kind of events they typically attend and which of these events they find most productive. Most of us love to called upon for our insights and expertise. Ask if you can join them at one such event. And, most importantly, invite them to a client lunch. (Note: If you are on a very tight budget, you can accomplish these same objectives with a Client Breakfast!) When you plan that lunch, ask them if they would like to invite someone else whom THEY think you might enjoy meeting. Doing this will go far in making your new contact feel extremely comfortable about joining you for lunch; after all, now it’s “two of them and just one of you!” They know they will have fun because they will get to enjoy a lunch with someone they know they enjoy AND they will get to know more about you and vice verse.
Then, during the client lunch, find out all you can about your new contact’s business, industry, and opinions about a wide array of topics, though be sure to avoid discussing anything controversial. This information will help you as you take your next step, finding out ways you can help your client to build THEIR business. This type of selfless investment will pay you dividends in the long run. Think about this: when someone helps YOU, don’t you want to go out of your way to help THEM in return? Of course you do. Sometimes, building relationships like this can take months or even years, but you will soon find that you are building your business exponentially and your network reach – in your industry AND in your community – will be extensive. The more people you know, the more successful your business will become, and the more increased sales you’ll enjoy.
If you have any questions about anything you’ve read in this blog, feel free to submit a comment and I will answer it personally. Be sure to include your email. ~ Robin
When it comes to marketing, the future is texting and “permission-based” advertising to attract new business and keep customers on site. Michael Perhaes, Sr. V.P. of Edelman Digital in Chicago, predicts that soon there will be no “traditional” or “digital” marketing, just “marketing.” He recently commented in the Las Vegas Sun on the state of – and various types of – hotel marketing. This combination of traditional and digital marketing, according to Perhaes, is being referred to already as “tradigital.”Inspiring, to say the least.
Reading Michael’s comment reminded me just how much I want to create my own word(s). This desire first came to me when Stephen Colbert invented the word “truthiness” a while ago. I decided I, too, wanted to invent a word. But where to begin….?
Hmmm. Being “The Queen of the Business Lunch,” I thought my word should probably have something to do with the Business Lunch. If I had a dollar for every time I had to type or say “Business Lunch,” I’d have more money than Trump. Don’t think I haven’t considered inventing “blunch.” It’s just that the word itself is, well, unappealing and unappetizing. I’ve used “biz lunch” in the past, but it sounds too hurried, as in “Let’s catch a smoothie after a work out in the gym.”
I could rip of Colbert directly – and talk about “lunchiness.” But what exactly would “lunchiness” mean?
I finally decided upon a phrase, rather than a single word. I’m here to discuss my new phrase: “LUNCH WORTHY”! This works for me, as time today is our greatest resource. If you want me to meet you for lunch, I have to consider taking at least an hour to get ready (now that I work from home, I am not always “lunch ready”!) But that just scratches the surface.
There is the drive to wherever your office is or to the restaurant, if I am not going to pick you up. After SCHLEPPING back and forth across the valley for nearly 20 years, I am incredibly reluctant to drive very far just to have lunch with a colleague or client. Working from home has definitely spoiled me!
Then, there is the preparation. Preparing for a business lunch takes time. I have to get up-to-date on the industry, current events, and so on…. I’m sure you’re getting the picture.
The WORST part about lunch today is that since I’m now dressed up and out and about, I will most likely want to stop at the market on my way home. It’s apparent that a simple 1.5 hour lunch (or my favorite 2+ hour lunch) is going to turn into a 5-hour excursion. Taking 5 hours out of my day means I’ll be sitting here at 11PM, working and making up for lost time.
Are you LUNCH WORTHY? Is having lunch with you going to be so fabulous that it will be well WORTH the five hours it’s going to take? In many cases, it IS worth it. I love to connect with former colleagues and I definitely enjoy work-related business lunches with current clients or prospects. There are also worthwhile industry functions – which are tremendous networking opportunities!
The next time you take someone out to lunch, make sure you have a lot to share. Try to be as LUNCH WORTHY as possible and I bet you’ll see your lunch calendar fill up quickly!
And, if you still can’t spare the time it takes to have a productive, yet leisurely lunch, remember that a coffee or breakfast meeting can always solve your problems. Here is a clip where I explain why coffee is a great substitute for a business lunch.
Thursday morning, October 7th, I’ll be speaking at the Southwestern/Pacific chapter meeting of PCMA: Professional Convention Management Association. I’d like to send special thanks to Gina Mann at the Las Vegas Convention Vistors Authority for recommending me as this month’s speaker. The breakfast will be held at the South Point Hotel & Casino at 8AM.
I’ll be presenting “B FACE 2 FACE 4 SUCCESS” - a 60-minute keynote presentation on building EFFECTIVE & PRODUCTIVE business relationships that will include suggestions that you will be able to implement IMMEDIATELY to increase your sales and improve your bottom line. This presentation is built upon the lessons I discovered while building relationships during my sales career, which I shared in my first book, “The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2.” My experience during nearly 20 years of sales and my ability to build such incredible relationships is why my clients started calling me “The Queen of the Business Lunch”.
A strong ability to build relationships can assure your success – whatever field you are in. WHY? Because PEOPLE PREFER TO DO BUSINESS WITH PEOPLE THEY LIKE! Your parents were wrong: success in life actually IS a popularity contest! After all – who wants to hang out with or do business with people they DON’T LIKE?! When you look at it this way, it makes sense: to succeed, you need to develop your PEOPLE SKILLS.
People have choices – and when it comes to business, they are even more likely to take advantage of their options … especially in THIS competitive environment. No business decision is ever JUST about price!
When I deliver this presentation, I ask my audiences for a show of hands to
indicate how many people REGULARLY go OUT OF THEIR WAY to patronize a particular business because they PREFER how they are treated at the more inconvenient location than at a similar business closer to their homes. I ALWAYS get 100% response! That supports my point: your people skills can improve your business or destroy it. It’s not that hard to build solid, productive business relationships. I’ll be sharing tips and techniques so that you, too, can become a Business Relationship Expert! Hope to see you there.
Is breakfast the new lunch? ABSOLUTELY!
As “The Queen of the Business Lunch,” I ought to know; I personally hosted more than 3,000 client lunches while I was an advertising account executive and saw my sales increase by more than 2,000%. As many of you know, my tips and techniques for building business over meals was chronicled in my award-winning book, “The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2″ which is currently in twelve languages. There is nothing as effective as breaking bread for getting to know a client, to learn more about their business, understand their needs, and find better ways to help them achieve their goals. Something magical happens when you are in a social setting, sharing food. But budgets have been busted, expense accounts annihilated, and time to savor sandwiches and conversation is at a premium!
I am recommending breakfast meetings as an effective way to break bread in this “new economy”!
There have been so many changes in business over the past few years that even though a business lunch would still be ideal, many professionals just don’t have the time for it anymore. Working mothers can’t spare an hour and a half out of their day since they have to pick up their kids at five o’clock. And executives with billable hours – like attorneys – have always had a hard time getting away for any length of time during the work day.
Meeting someone for coffee or breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning is a wonderful way to accomplish your relationship-building goals while saving time and money. It’s not apparent that you may be suggesting breakfast as a way of saving on your expense account. Instead, it will simply seem like a more efficient way to get together.
The pace of business has picked up incredibly over the past few years. Today people just don’t have time for long, languishing lunches. The 3-martini business lunch of the late ’60′s and early ’70′s – where lunch rolled right on into happy hour – is long gone. But most of us used to be able to get away long enough for a decent lunch.
In today’s business environment, however, people just have too much work to do. If the professionals with whom you do business still have time for lunch, I urge you to seize those precious hours in the middle of the day to take those clients out. The mid-day hours can become the most productive time of your day. But for those who either don’t have time themselves or whose clients don’t have any time to spare, breakfast done right can help you to achieve your traditional business lunch goals.
Traditional lunchtime goals are primarily about building relationships – and trust me….something absolutely magical happens over a meal. People let their guard down and they open up. You’ll discover information about their business that you would never learn in an office setting. And the more you know, the better you will be able to help your clients achieve their goals…and that is really what it’s all about. People prefer to do business with people they like, and there is no better way to get to know someone than by sharing a meal with them. And if you don’t have time or the budget for a high-end lunch, then breakfast is the next best way to build relationships.
I recommend meeting at a Starbucks or neighborhood coffee shop for morning meetings. Meeting over lattes and muffins doesn’t just help you to save a bundle on meals, but it also assures that you’ll get that quality “face time” that is essential to business success. It’s a lot like working out. A lot can happen during your day to sabotage a planned after-work visit to the gym. Your friends might want to meet for happy hour or you might end up having to work late. Anyone who works out regularly will tell you that getting their workout done and out of the way first thing in the morning is the best way to succeed.
Scheduling breakfast meetings can have the same advantage; by getting together with clients before their regular day begins, you have little chance of things coming up that might interfere or cause them to reschedule. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you can drop the ball on connecting with clients. Networking breakfasts are also an outstanding way to get in front of many people at once. Mornings have never been better for building profitable, productive business relationships.”
What do you think? Have you tried substituting breakfast meetings for long lunch meetings? Are you saving a bundle? And have you been able to accomplish the same goals?