Just ask already!
In the cult classic movie Fight Club there is a scene where the one main character is hesitant to ask if he can crash at the other character’s house. Finally the owner says “just ask man”.
Sales people often get so focused on being prepared to overcome objections that they miss when prospects are ready to buy. Or when the sale is finally achieved they talk themselves back out of it. When a sale is finalized move the process on to the next stage.
Networking is not much different. Many contacts will use round about ways to get in front of you and once there drop their not-so-hidden agenda on you. My favorites are “can I buy you coffee” shortly followed by “I’d like to learn more about what you do”. But the moment your meeting begins there is no talk of you but instead a request for something unrelated.
Honestly I feel this is a perfectly legitimate strategy…but only if you truly are interested in learning more about the other person AND you are willing to add value back to the relationship by helping them in some way. Scratch my back and I will scratch yours.
Remember it has to be mutually beneficial to build trust.
Now go get in their face!