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Josh Melton: Networking 'Connector'
Meet Target Customers & THEIR Clients

Ask people, "What do you do?" - Josh Melton
By Kelley Buttrick
Voice Actor & VOXtra Staff Writer
Most people love the sound of two things more than anything else: The sound of their own names being spoken and the sound of their own voices.
So the easiest way to get people to talk about themselves is to ask what they do.
According to Classic City Professionals networking group creator Josh Melton, the best place to engage in networking is anywhere a person will feel comfortable.
"If you’re not comfortable, it’s hard to come across as knowable and likeable,” says Melton, who credits networking for generating 75% of his insurance agency business - with the remainder coming from existing client referrals.
"Start where you are comfortable and then expand. Once you are comfortable with networking, it will transfer to other types of events.”
When choosing where to network, which he does seven to 10 times a month, Melton considers his ideal clients, who are busy professionals and young families.
"For me, it’s important to know who my client is and who they do business with - industry referral partners,” says the owner of the Josh Melton Insurance Agency, based in Athens, GA.
"For my industry, that means real estate agents, bankers, mortgage professionals, CPAs and attorneys.
"Voice over talents might want to consider who their target customer is, and who potential industry referral partners might be for that client,” he adds. 
In addition, Melton, who created a monthly networking group in the town where he does business, attends events that provide opportunities to stay top-of-mind with contacts.
"By seeing them consistently, I’m building trusting relationships with them and eventually, when they need my services, I’ll call them clients,” he explains.
Melton’s first networking expansion out of his comfort zone was a Chamber of Commerce function he attended on a friend’s invitation.
At the event, the leaders drew three business cards out of a hat and gave each of the three the opportunity to speak at the same event the next month.
Melton’s was one of the three.
"I had to talk in front of about 40 people I didn’t know and describe the strengths of my business,” Melton recalls.
"At the end of the program, a woman approached me saying I described exactly what she needed, and she’s been a valuable client ever since.
"It never would have happened if I hadn’t chosen to lunch with those 40 people I didn’t know, putting myself in what was then an uncomfortable environment.”
For those intimidated by entering a room full of strangers, Melton suggests trying one of two types of people to approach.
One idea is to look for the person who seems to be in charge and introduce yourself since he/she is likely to introduce you around to others.
Another thought is to find the exact opposite individual, that person who is alone, not engaging with anyone else, since he/she may be less intimidating to access.
Melton’s best networking advice is to ask the question, "What do you do?”
He says it’s the simplest way to get people talking about themselves.
"Then when you run into them again, you have something to say.”
Melton also references pieces of conversations in follow-up emails to people he meets through networking.
"The reason it’s my best and easiest tip is that when people are uncomfortable, they typically talk more than normal because we are all uncomfortable with silence,” he adds. 
While asking questions is a networking tool, Melton is genuinely interested in people, and finding ways to introduce them to others who could help meet their needs.
"For me, I care about other people and helping them,” he explains, and it's earned him a reputation as a connector.
"Obviously you’re at networking events to meet people, but invert that idea and take a real interest in the things they tell you. You never know if this person you go up and talk with will make your career or will lead you to the client who will make your career.
"You could look back on that one moment and say, ‘The hand I shook 20 years ago is what led to all this for me.’”

Author Kelley Buttrick is a versatile15-year voice over talent and staff writer for VoiceOverXtra who also has extensive experience in marketing and on-air roles in broadcast media, newspapers and business. Also an actor and writer, Kelley's work experience on many sides of the microphone gives her a unique 'big picture' perspective for each project.

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Comments (2)
Johnny George
7/13/2011 at 11:07 AM
Josh is SO right. As a Voice Actor, I may the one many look to to fill that "silence," but in all practical aspects, I am relatively a shy person. I may be an "A" personality once I get talking, but so many times, my shyness is conveyed to others as one who sits and listens twice as much as I speak. Many who know me may say, "Shy? Johnny? .. .not likely." But it's true.

Thanks, Josh, for some very enlightening insight. See, I'm a sponge and I'll soak this in too ... quietly.
Ron Chandler
7/13/2011 at 9:39 AM
Josh Melton, you hit the nail on the head. I am facilitator for a self-help group (Agoraphobics in Motion). AIM helps people overcome their fears and the best way is to get them talking about what they do, and it spread like wild fire. I am new to voiceover - just want to put myself out there and get noticed.
Thanks, Ron Chandler
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