Networking is often viewed as one of those activities only salespeople are good at. At its core, networking is about making a human connection. Utilize these five keys and you will quickly find that your network is not only expanding, but it is actively working for you to help you increase sales.
Be a connector. Do you know someone who appears to know everyone? Their “six degrees of separation” appears to be just one or two degrees. How can you do that? It starts with meeting people. The more people you meet and find out how you can help them, the more likely you are to be able to connect them to someone that is a good match. You add value for them and they respect you for that. The other benefit is when people you have connected sit down to talk. What is likely to be the one thing they have in common? You! It never hurts to have two people start a discussion talking about you and your business.
Listen and help. Women are often better networkers than men because they are typically better listeners. They know that asking questions is a great way to engage with someone and draw them out. The objective of asking questions is to learn how you can help the other person, not to set them up for your sales pitch. Even though networking is not about selling, it can, of course, be a great sales tool. Why? Because networking can help you discover how you might help the other person, and help them to discover how they can help you.
Utilize the strength of “weak ties.” If you haven’t already, you will find that most of the critical successes in your personal and professional life will come through someone who knows the person who will ultimately be responsible for that success (future client, employer, etc.). It will likely not come as a result of a direct or planned contact with that person. Those successful “friend of a friend” contacts most often happen when your “friend” is aware of who you want to meet. Thus, these seemingly weak ties can lead to significant sales over time.
Follow through and follow up. If you say you are going to do something in a meeting, that is a commitment. Do it right away. If you don’t, all the hard work you put into the meeting is lost. Not only should you follow through when you are on the giving end, you should also do so on the receiving end. You will find that nothing will cause your referral sources to dry up more quickly than when you fail to contact the person they recommended you reach out to.
Learn to tell stories. Nothing is more engaging, or more effective, than a well-told story. That’s why the best speeches always start with them. It is hard for people to remember facts and figures, but they can often recall and retell a story in amazing detail. Give an example of how you helped someone, rather than explain what you do.
While networking opportunities should not be used for hard selling, networking can – if approached professionally – set the stage for sales success. Want to learn more about how your business or sales organization can leverage the power of networking to maximize sales growth? Contact one of our Advisors today.