Networking is fun. It remains an enigma to me that more salespeople don’t use it to replace the cold call (which ain’t no fun). If you network smart, it’s the easiest way to make sales contacts. Hot sales contacts.
Networking is a trendy buzzword. Loosely defined it means getting together with other business people (out of the office environment) to make contacts and advance your career. It’s a relaxed atmosphere where people are eager to receive your message.
How to employ the science of networking is more of a challenge. The key is to keep it simple. First, figure out where you need to network to be most effective. (A major clue will be where your prospects or customers participate.)
Then show up.
Here are the essential questions to making networking an effective sales tool. Your answers will determine your success:
- Do I have a 5year networking plan?
- Do I have a list of the organizations where I can benefit the most?
- Who are the most important people that I must contact?
- How much time must I commit?
- Do I have my 30second personal commercial written, recorded and rehearsed?
- What are my expected results?
Here are some networking realisms that will guide your success.
- It’s you. To identify your best resource for networking success, just look in the mirror the next chance you get. (Pretty good looking, huh?)
- Give first. To get what you want you must give of yourself first without measuring.
- Dig in. To benefit you must commit to be involved, and then get involved.
Become known as a person of performance.
- Be consistent. By attending meetings and events regularly, you will be seen and known as consistent.
- Score. People will do business with you once they get to know you and see you perform.
Here’s the 11.5 step simplified version of how to win prospects and contacts at a networking event:
1. Target the people you want to meet.
2. Talk to them.
3. Get information from them that pertains to you.
4. Get them interested in what you do.
5. Categorize them on the back of their card as soon as you get it. (a. Wants my product. b. Knows someone who may want my product. c. Valuable contact. d. Professional contact. e. Social contact. f. Useless contact)
6. Qualify the contact (if they’re a candidate to buy when are they likely to do so?)
7. Establish some rapport and find some common ground (make friends).
8. Remember the information they’ve given you. (Write it on the back of their card as soon as you finish the conversation.)
9. Make the next appointment.
10. Write the commitment made on the back of your card the one that you give the prospect. Write the commitment on the back of the card he or she gave you.
11. Move on to the next person.
11.5 Followup less than 24hours after the event to confirm the commitment.
The paradox is at a networking event everyone wants to sell! You may have to “play buyer” (gather information) in order to get a chance to be a seller. Networking success is dependent upon your ability to wear either hat.
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