In order to network effectively, it is important to be aware of why networking is important. Understanding why networking is important will keep you motivated and focused. As a networker, I know that it is difficult to stay motivated when you have to drive half way across town for another meeting, especially if you already know most the people in the room. Once you get there, it is even harder to stay focused on the work of networking instead of catching up with your friends. It has been my experience that salespeople either need to spend time finding people ready to buy, or spend time finding people who are around people who are ready to buy my product. The second part is networking. Unfortunately, most people do not use networking effectively. My hope is that these 5 points in this post will remind you of the purpose of networking and help you stay motivated and focused on growing your sales through your network.
First, the purpose of networking is to form business relationships. A mentor of mine once told me that for someone to buy something from you they have to 1) need it, 2) have the money to spend, and 3) like the salesperson. The relationships you build during networking will do more to help with sales than anything else in your control. Also, these new relationships that, even if they dont buy from you, will know what you sell, continue to help you hone how you tell people what you sell and help you run into the correct type of consumer.
Second, you will never sell anything at an event. The purpose of networking is to build relationships, not to make a sale during the event. If you sell at an event you will never form the relationship you need. This is the #1 mistake that good networkers see at every event. It essential that you understand this principal of networking, are okay with this, and are not discouraged. Building relationships takes time. Networking is not a short-term solutions to you having no sales. Networking is a long-term fix that will make sure you never have no sales again.
Third, networking is work. You are not there to play or catch up with friends, you are there to make connections that eventually lead to a sale. It’s tempting to let your network become your social circle. Everyone has this problem and it becomes bigger the better you are at networking. Now, that being said, some connections do become close friends. However, if you go into each meeting with the idea that you are working, you will leave with what you came for, and that is people to start a relationship with. However, since relationships do not build overnight, the value of them can be the hardest thing for most managers to understand, especially if they have no sales experience. They want results, but results in sales often requires taking the time to build relationships.
Fourth, networking helps define your personal brand. Today’s sales environment is very competitive. Unless your company is truly unique, most people in the room know someone else in your industry and even then, they will most likely know someone else at your company. To be successful you must have people talking about you in regular conversation when you are not there. This requires an effective personal brand so that people remember you and how you are different. Your brand should be associated with your company’s brand, but ultimately be your own. There are numerous ways to be memberable. I know a business coach that only wears Hawaiian shirts, life insurance salespeople that have a separate but associated logos to their companies, and a plumber that only wears tuxedos. This is physical separation, and works very well. I also found that an effective way to differentiate yourself is by who your know, and the strength of those relationships. I personally used this type of differentiation and built my own networking group, different from others, with my own namesake called “Nateworking”. Nateworking has allowed me to reach out and talk with people about life, instead of the purpose of sales calls and to connect my network with themselves. People now remember Nateworking as a place they made a good connection and now talk about, and look forward to events I am having in the future. It’s a way for me to stay top of mind for what I do even if they currently don’t need what I do currently.
Fifth, networking saves you time. Most importantly, by developing and training your network to know what events indicate that someone is ready to buy, your network can intercept people when they are ready to buy and let you know who they are. This helps you save time by not having to spend time selling to people who are just shopping, or prospecting, and focus on using your network to find people ready to buy for you.
I hope you found my post refreshing and useful. Please share it with others, because we all need frequent reminders of why networking is important and what we need to do make the most of our investment. Until my next post on networking, pick an event, go to said event, find a group of people who are talking close to the food, swallow fear, stick out hand. It is not sneaky, it is not coy, but will work every time. Remember, everyone else is there to meet new people too. You are a new person, go meet them.