This question may come off as rude or trite, but I believe in the case of offering solutions it is exactly what you should be asking. Not outright, of course, but through the course of meaningful conversation.
Recently I had the opportunity of attending a NAWBO monthly luncheon with other netlogx team members. On the surface, attending a NAWBO luncheon is an opportunity to have good food, listen to inspiring and knowledgeable speakers, and do some networking if the opportunity presents itself.
….wait. If the opportunity presents itself? What does this mean? I had to stop and think about this idea and ask myself, “Do I honestly think that someone is going to walk up to me and say, ‘hi, I hear you work at netlogx and that netlogx specializes in Information Management, Information Security Management, and Project and Risk Management Services and I need some of that. If I pay you, will you help me?”
The truth is, first of all this question wouldn’t even make sense, but second of all networking doesn’t work like that. It is about relationships, identifying needs, and offering customized solutions. As someone in the netlogx team pointed out, “people buy from people.” So while the easiest thing to do is wait for people to come to you ready to share their needs, the best thing to do is converse with people and get to know them. As you talk, listen for their needs and be ready to offer solutions.
I am no ace at selling, but I do know that everybody can sell, people buy from people, and people love to talk about their problems (which is a good thing in this situation!). Once you’ve heard the problem, sell the solution – just be sure you know what you’re selling.
I am looking forward to more opportunities to attend events like the NAWBO luncheon in order to become one of those people that people buy from.