When Joan approached me after a consulting session, she asked me to rate the importance of
Business Networking 101 networking. “Well,”, I said by her question, “networking is a central to building a new set of prospects; it is a critical part of your overall prospecting plan. Everyone in sales needs to regularly network and opportunity. It is a valuable exercise; one from which your business will grow. Joan you have to prospect consistently, in order to survive! Why do you ask?”
“Well,” she said, “I am having problems connecting with people at these networking meetings. And it all just seems like a big waste of my time” she said.
If you are like Joan you know you have to network but dread the next meeting. Why? Like most of us, we walk into the networking function and are immediately “hit upon” by everyone selling but no one is buying. Maybe we speak to two or three people eat the hard green cantaloupe, burn our lip on scalding hot coffee and collect a few business cards but nothing happens. So, like Joan, we feel the whole networking exercise is a time waster. So why do we do it and how can we get better at networking for sales?
Here are some basic business networking tips:
• Let’s redefine what is networking? “Meeting new people in my target market and finding out if I can help them in any way and if they can help me in any way?” Notice the sentence started by helping them first.
• Who Should I Target? In other words, let’s identify my relationship network. There are Individuals who are “connectors” in the marketplace you with whom you wish to connect. Make a list of people who do business with people you want to do business. From that list build a relationship and make your own “Board of Directors” who you can consult with or leverage new relationships.
• How do you meet someone? For some of us, starting a conversation or getting others emotionally engaged can be a high hurdle. Get them to talk about their company, product or service, or better yet about themselves. Develop your own 10 second and a 30 second commercial that focuses on the frustrating identifiers and focus on how you’ve solved them within their industry.
Don’t forget, the average attention span is 15 seconds.