Education Industry Influencers Need to be Treated Like Friends.
If your position at your company is one that is outward facing, like CEO or someone in a sales role who attends the industry conferences and meetings, making sure that you have a diverse influencer network is key. Not just other people in the EdTech industry and maybe some school superintendents and principals, but anyone who might one day have some inside information or personal connection to someone who can help your business down the road. Proper networking is key.
When building a network, make sure you’re doing it in a pleasant, human way for the best results. Oftentimes a business development professional or CEO will work hard to gain an introduction or cultivate a connection, and as soon as the connection happens, they immediately try to pitch a sale to that person.
The Problems With the Instant Pitch
There are two glaring problems with this approach. First, it’s rude. If, upon introduction to someone, you launch into a sales pitch, you’re basically telling them you’re more important than them, and that it is more important for them to buy into you than for you to take the time to get to know them
Secondly, it immediately gives them a reason to say no. You’re putting them at a fork in the road at the very beginning of a potential relationship. “I know we just met, but are you buying what I’m selling or not?” That will almost always send the person down the “no” road, never to turn back.
Invite People to Start A Conversation
Noted best-selling author, Daniel Pink, said during a keynote speech at the Hubspot Inbound Conference in Boston in 2015, “The purpose of a pitch is not what we think. We tend to think the purpose of a pitch is to convert people. Nope. The purpose of a pitch is to invite people into a conversation.”
Creating a network of influencers is similar to going to a cocktail party in someone’s home. You always want to go to a party with a bottle of wine or a gift. You do not want to show up empty handed, and the way you do that is by keeping an eye on all the other influencers in your space and making a point to participate in the same areas where they participate.