Three Questions to Expect at Networking Events

on July 11, 2011 in Marketing, Networking
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The main goal of attending networking events is to meet as many people as possible. During this time, you are sure to ask your fair share of questions. At the same time, there will be quite a few inquiries directed your way.

Time after time, I am asked the same questions at these events. At first, I was not prepared for these questions and often times had a difficult time addressing them in a confident manner. Now, things have become much easier.

Do you have time to work for me?

This is a question that I never expected, but has seemed to become more and more popular with every event that I attend. Obviously, there is only one answer to this question: yes! You never want to tell a prospective client that you may be too busy to work with them.

What are your rates?

Attempting to answer this question, without knowing all the details of the project, is very dangerous. Rather than get into the finer details of your pricing structure, explain that your rates are competitive and that you can provide an accurate quote, via phone or email, once you learn more.

Can you provide me with samples?

I don’t make it a habit of carrying samples with me at these events. However, I know several freelancers who strongly believe in doing so. Instead, I always collect business cards and email samples upon returning to the office. Not only does this make things easier on both parties, but it gives me a reason to follow-up.

You can expect to hear these questions, time and time again, when attending networking events.

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8 Comments

  1. Megan Collins Quinlan July 11, 2011 Reply

    I have never attended a networking event, although I do know of several which happen near to me. As a writer, I suppose I never considered that potential clients would attend. I suppose it is time to print up some business cards and get out there and promote myself some more.

    Although when it comes to time, these events do suck up plenty of it. But if it leads to more work I suppose it is worthwhile!

  2. Kimberly July 12, 2011 Reply

    Chris, you briefly touched on an issue that I’ve run into but haven’t figured out a “graceful’ way to handle – knowing what to say to someone who’s interested in hiring my services when I have projects scheduled (and in progress) through the following month. You say that you should never tell a prospective client that you’re too busy to work with them, but what would you suggest saying or doing instead?

  3. Jon Stow July 12, 2011 Reply

    Never quote for anything at a networking event or ever without knowing what the client wants. Invite them to chat later or offer to meet or call them at their convenience.

    If the first question is “how much” it’s probably business you don’t need from someone who doesn’t want to pay what it’s worth. I usually counter with “if you asked me how much to paint your house you would expect me to visit to see what work is involved”. The charge should be what it’s worth to the client in value, so that you make a good profit..

  4. Lori July 12, 2011 Reply

    Kim, I usually let them know the windows of time I have available. I think that’s all anyone should expect – time is not theirs until they purchase it. But I have been known to tell potential clients if I have projects already in the works. I think it’s fair that they know that if they need something right away.

    I totally agree on pricing. I usually tell them I can give them a per-project rate once I see what they’re wanting.

  5. steven July 18, 2011 Reply

    I have never been to a networking event, there aren’t too many going on in my area but it is something I will look into further. I agree that you should never tell prospective clients you are too busy, it will only push them towards your competition. Either manage their time expectations to your needs or look into outsourcing the work but retaining creative control.

    • Jennifer Mattern July 18, 2011 Reply

      There is absolutely nothing wrong with telling clients you’re too busy when you really are. I do it almost daily. And sending work to you “competition” is good business. It’s called a referral. And the more you give, the more you generally get. Refusing to give out referrals is downright bad business in this line of work.

      And I’d argue that you shouldn’t jump into outsourcing. You do not retain creative control when you do that. And as a freelancer your reputation is built on YOUR work, not someone else’s. If you change your business model and give up independent contracting for a more traditional small business setup, outsourcing client work can make much more sense. But when you’re truly freelancing as a solo professional, you put your reputation in other’s hands. And you don’t necessarily save time. You still have to be the go-between, project manager, and editor — all which takes a good amount of time. If you don’t have time to do the project right yourself, chances are you don’t have time to do that properly either.

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