Be Prepared with Your Courageous ASK™

Recently one of the organizers of an international women's conference where I had spoken grabbed me to talk with one of the conference attendees - I'll call her Felicia. I had no idea why I was asked to speak with Felicia, but as we chatted I learned that Felicia had come to the conference as a vendor in the marketplace. Because the marketplace wasn't the focus of the conference, she was disappointed in her experience.

While it may be true that the conference could have done more to promote the marketplace, Felicia and I discussed a few networking tips that she could use during the rest of the conference to make the most of the experience.
  1. Be Prepared with a Courageous ASK™: Felicia wasn't clear when we began what she hoped to gain from her attendance at the conference. As we talked, it became clear that beyond selling a few pieces in the marketplace she needed introductions to high end jewelry stores that might carry her line. The tactical activity of selling jewelry while important was a short-term focus while strategically building contacts for sales through international jewelers would pay off over the long term. So, it makes sense to not only have a Courageous ASK - in Felicia's case, "could you make a referral to a high end jeweler who would be interested in my line of jewelry?" - but to make sure that your ASK is as strategic as it could possibly be.
  2. Represent Your Product: When we sat down, it astonished me that Felicia wasn't wearing any of her jewelry. She had the opportunity to be a walking representation of the beautiful jewelry - a potential conversation starter if commented on it, or as an example if she introduced her ASK. You might not be able to wear your product, but you could make an impact with a 2-sided business card, or some other tangible representation of what you do or what you need.
  3. Nurture Your Network: Whether someone was interested in purchasing jewelry, it was important for Felicia to collect business cards. That way she could ask if her new conference acquaintances knew anyone who knew anyone who might provide introductions to high end jewelers. Oh, and be sure to thank anyone who responds to your Couragous ASK. I'm sorry to say that I haven't heard word one from Felicia since I emailed her intros to 2 high end jewelers.
So, the next time you are in a position to network, be sure you know what would be the best possible outcome of your Courageous ASK, be sure that you capitalize on opportunities to Represent your Product and Nurture Your Network by following up.

Lead ON!
Susan Colantuono is CEO of Leading Women and author of No Ceiling, No Walls.
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