Public Speaking: Networking Events and Incentives

May 11th, 2009 by Frank Damelio

While you speak at a networking event, do you expect your audience to be conjuring referral possibilities for you? Depending on the event, in most cases people are not doing so.  Why?  Most people are ineffective networkers because they don’t live the “givers gain” philosophy.  Many of these people aren’t even listening to your message. They are thinking of what they are going to say when it’s their turn to speak, or perhaps they are pondering lunch.  The best networkers WILL listen, but since they are so well connected, there is probably a list of trusted referral partners they already have in your field of expertise.

There is, however, still great benefit to public speaking at networking events as long as you keep in mind the following secret:

People respond to incentives

After you’ve caught their attention using this type of power opener, you must show them how it is in their self-interest to consider who they might know to help you.

Here are some ideas that I’ve seen work at BNI and other networking groups:

1)  Refer a wedding to us and you get a romantic overnight stay at our hotel.

2) When your prospect brings up a price objection use this tactic: “If I can show you how to save that much money off your operational expenses, would you be willing to use that savings to invest in my solution?” This is Ben Hall’s (OverVIEW) strategy.

3) For every referral that turns to a sale, we will give you $100.

4) Everybody take out a piece of paper and write down the names of small restaurant owners to whom you would introduce me.  As a thank you, here is a small box of Godiva for each name you provide me.

I understand that some readers will contest: “but networking should be people just trying to help oneanother.  There is no need for incentives.” Okay, agreed! That would be nice, and there may be SOME groups that live that philosophy.  In general, however, if you want people working for you, never underestimate the power of personal incentive.

What creative ideas do you have to incentivize others to search their mental databases for referrals to help you build your business?  Please share so that our readers can get the most out of their public speaking at networking events.

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3 Responses to “Public Speaking: Networking Events and Incentives”

  1. Sharon Kuchenbecker Says:

    All good points you gave. I look at speaking to networking groups a bit differently. I NEVER speak with the intent of GETTING a SALE…First and foremost, I strive to let my audience see why I am different from other Gift Basket vendors. I do this through storytelling show & tell, and answers to questions posed by the audience. I want my audience to have the kind of information that will propel them buy from me and refer me when a need arises, rather than me “selling” to them. I believe that my biggest incentive is the extra effort I put into the gifts I create for them and their referrals…because I ALWAYS make sure my client looks GREAT to the recepient of a gift from Express Yourself Gifts & Baskets. This may sound pompous, but educating my clients is far more valuable to them and to my company than a trinket. I do reward my customers in Basket Bucks and frequently put extras into the basket they order. without charge…which again makes them look GREAT!

    To sum up, educating my potential clients is much more productive than “paying” them for their referrals. I want the RELATIONSHIP first, followed by passionate clients and referrals… not robots…if I wanted that I could pay a salesperson a commission to work for me…hope this sparks some discussion!

  2. Frank Damelio Says:

    Hi Sharon,

    Thanks for your excellent comments.

    1) I’ve seen your baskets and they do sell themselves. They are beautiful.

    2) Agreed – I wouldn’t SELL to my audience. I would suggest giving incentives for REFERRALS. Always incentivize for a referral rather than peddling good.

    3) Trinkets – never. Anything you give must be of HIGH quality bc it will be associated with your brand. That’s why Godiva works well.

    4) Good strategy of having the person look good because the basket is of high quality and exceeds expectations – that is a strong incentive.

    5) ONE of my suggestions was “paying” – which DOES work, though it may not be to your taste. The other ideas are gifts (which are always appreciated) and creative incentives like Ben Hall’s.

    6) Most of us would be happy to pay a sales person a commission if that sales person generated high volume, quality sales at a very low percentage. Unfortunately, that is challenging to find.

    With the right group of people “educating” can work. In most cases, unless people are paying attention and given a reason to make the effort, education alone may not be enough.

    Thanks so much for your perspective – it is very much appreciated and valued.

  3. long island photography club Says:

    Aw man I just wanted to take a moment to say I really like reading your blog!

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