How are many sales professionals attending tons of networking events and still not making sales? Networking that is done smart results in sales. Like everything in life: Actions equal outcomes. Follow these networking tips to build trust and get the results you desire.
Make it Meaningful
Do you go to events and get five minutes to scan the room and toss out business cards? If you are attending one of these events, do your homework. Find out who will be there in advance and focus on a few attendees you want to connect within the room. Research their websites and social media profiles and find some common ground to share. It will be better for everyone when you can share in a meaningful conversation and reduce the amount of uncomfortable small talk about the weather or sports.
If you want to get to know someone, try giving back. Look at charities that make sense to you to get involved in and spend some time there. The worst that can happen is you will come away with a renewed sense of value for giving to others. Another way to give back is to offer to help at events. Maybe they need a greeter, ticket holder, or promoter. Look for ways to give back to those you want to deepen a relationship.
Are you Fishing in the Wrong Pond?
Practice Quality over Quantity, more is not always better. Choose networking events where you know your target audience will be found. Big events are not always the best. The benefit of smaller events are fewer people mean more time for relationship building, and you will not be waiting in line to speak with key decision makers. If you are not a morning person, don't swim against your circadian rhythms. Choose events where your energy levels are high, and you will shine naturally and not have to "fake your enthusiasm." I am not a morning person. It is all I can do not to drool my coffee down my front, let alone string together a meaningful sentence! If you are like me, look for events later in the day to shine.
Inch Deep, Mile Wide
In sales, this is a type of prospecting. This kind of exploration is when salespeople call on tons of prospects, but only connect, once or twice at best. This method is not a valid way to prospect or network. If you are attending tons of different events and never making any meaningful connections, you may be practicing the inch deep mile wide method of networking. Look for ways to connect outside of networking events. Dedicate one hour per week for coffee, lunch or even a scheduled call to learn more. Investing time to communicate on a personal level is a more beneficial way to network and deepen relationships.
Are you asking for Linkedin connections with those you meet at networking events? Linkedin is a powerful way to showcase what you do well and deepen the relationship through shared content, commenting and continuing to build the relationship. Some sales professionals ask when they receive a business card; Do you mind if I send you a Linkedin invite? Having a Linkedin connection is better than carrying around all of those business cards right? Another option is to have your Linkedin profile URL printed on your card.
Nothing says you are not important to me like looking down at your phone to check your messages while someone is talking, or presenting. I get we are all suffering from A.D.D. due to digital distractions. Some think they need to respond to every chat, tweet, I.M. or text in real time. Do yourself and everyone else in the room a favor. Shut down your phone! You will be a better listener, conversationalist and increase your likability. Trust me; you will not miss anything in a two-hour event that will cost you a sale- I promise.
Have a Plan
In sales, a measurement of progress is how much the deal has advanced. In networking, you need to develop a plan for the direction you want these relationships to lead ultimately. If you are practicing continuance, you are not advancing the objective. You will make lots of friends which is great, but you will not make many sales. Look at ways to deepen your relationships and build trust through coffee, lunch, and calls. Incorporate your contacts in social media to strengthen the connections. Learn everything you can about them, and create an awareness of your offering. Find ways to give back by volunteering time for charity, event planning, and promotion to show you care for others, be strategic, and have a plan for the relationships you build. Hope you find value in these tips for great networking.