We’ve recently attended the CompTIA EMEA Member and Partner Conference, meeting up with old peers and making new connections that have ended up in some useful conversations and relationships. In an interesting conversation with Gemma Telford, Principal at The IT Marketing Agency, we’ve had it reconfirmed what we’ve always known - that interpersonal skills are still critical when it comes to B2B successful connections.
Nowadays, with our busy schedules, it’s not easy for people to take a day out of their own business and attend industry events but sometimes you need to look beyond the direct ‘what’s in it for me’ approach and take a wider view. After all, when have you ever had a conversation with a past client or new prospect that has been wasted? Each time you take the time to talk to someone you get a new insight into their thoughts, views on the industry, some feedback, suggestions or even just some good gossip!
It’s been said for some time that there is no such thing as B2B or B2C anymore, only P2P (Person to Person); according to recent statistics, 90% of business decision making is emotional and this obviously involves personal relationships and engaging skills. If we really want to influence business decisions and develop further relationships, from now on we have to reach and persuade the real seat of power, the individual. The customer is not a corporate entity, but an independently minded, highly connected, always-emotional human being.
The huge growth of Social Media networks such as Twitter and LinkedIn has given us all opportunities to represent ourselves as individuals online. B2B evolving to P2P is about getting up-close and personal, engaging and building relationships with individuals within businesses; is all about relationships and the confidence one individual has in your business, services and products.
It is really essential for professionals, especially in management positions, to take time out of working ‘in’ their own business and instead work ‘on’ their own business. Industry events are not just opportunities to network but also to pick up tips, new knowledge and content or even just a chance to re-focus on what’s important.
Most people can find it hard to strike up a new conversation with someone they’ve never met before. But equally, everyone has something new to offer whether some insight, some advice or perhaps a valuable introduction. Good networking is all about mutual interest and mutual benefit. Make sure you are genuinely listening and responding to the people you meet rather than talking about you all the time. Work out what you could do for them as well as what they could do for you and help make other introductions where you can.
Everyone is focused on ROI and hard measures to evaluate the success of every transaction, but sometimes by allowing your outcomes to be a little less tangible, they can be much more valuable in the long term.