Networking is simple. Networking is powerful. Networking makes selling and the selling process easier and more enjoyable.
Networking is not an optional before or after business hour activity. Networking is a vital and integral part your sales success.
You do business between 9 and 5. You build business before and after “regular” business hours. The most powerful business in America is not conducted during business hours.
How do you integrate networking into your business schedule? Ten hours a month of intelligent, selective networking can have a doubling effect on your business growth in just a few months.
Here is a list of 5.5 fundamental elements that will guide your networking to the moon.
1. Network smart or you won’t get the right results. “I wish I could get more leads when I network,” or if you say, “I go to networking events, but I don’t get many prospects,” it means you’re not following the fundamental rules, OR you’re not networking where your prime prospects might be or both.
2. Commit by marking your calendar. Our office has a yearly wall calendar with all networking events posted and a small bulletin board next to it to post the event promotional pieces or invitations. Personally, I try to follow the “50butt rule”. If there are more than 50 butts in one room, my butt is there too.
3. Event selection is as important as networking itself. Each week the Business Journal publishes a list of business events, and the Chamber of Commerce publishes a monthly calendar. Don’t overlook social and cultural events as networking possibilities. Select those events that may attract your customer, or people who you want to get to know.
4. Know how you help. People don’t care what you do, unless what you do helps them. Know what problems you can solve, not a bunch of boring stuff about what you do. Asking powerful questions and showing how you help will gain the prospects interest. Gaining interest leads to an appointment. The purpose of networking is to gain engagement that leads to an appointment.
5. Practice by doing. Many people go to networking events; very few actually know how to network effectively. Practice the fundamentals and subtle secrets of networking by working a room. If you practice the rules you will have a better chance to succeed at it. All you have to do is prepare, show up and interact.
5.5 Be aware of time. Don’t spend too much of it with one person or you defeat the purpose of networking. Your objective is to take advantage of the entire room. If you spend 3 minutes with a prospect, that gives you a possibility of 20 contacts per hour. 5 minutes each = 12 contacts. 10 minutes each = 6 contacts. When you’re in a room full of prospects, every minute counts.
The size of the event dictates the amount of time you should spend with each person. The larger the event, the shorter time per contact, and the less time you should spend with each person especially the people you know. To make the most of a networking event, spend 75% of your time with people you don’t know.
5.5 These methods and rules have worked for me. You may not want to put them to use exactly as I do. Modify the techniques to suit your style and personality. Networking is a powerful, cost effective personal promotion and selling weapon. If utilized properly, it can provide the basis for your business growth.
If you question the value of networking, consider this… If there are 100 people in a room, and you have two hours to network, you can speak to at least 50% of them and probably make 30 contacts. How long would it take you to make 50 sales calls and make 30 contacts in any other environment?
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