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Is Your Networking, Not Working?

02/04/2015 07:35PM

By Stephen Pead - Director, Sales Solutions

Does networking seem like too much work? Is it just socialising that’s fun without bringingyou the results you expect, or need?

There’s plenty of advice floating around on the subject. “Build your business network first” or “attend networking functions regularly”; “find warm prospects with strong networking”….do this, don’t do that!

While the core advice is correct - networking is important for building your business. Most times the advice on networking doesn’t provide the “how”.

I get to meet many people at the various networking and business events I attend and truth is most aren’t all that good at it; as a result they miss out on meeting the right people who could unlock some great opportunities.

As a sales trainer and coach I’m a strong believer in the vital connection that networking provides, I encourage my clients to get out there and meet as many people as possible. Join the local Chamber of Commerce, volunteer for your favourite sports club or charity, gain connections with one of the specialist referral groups or attend industry association meetings and conferences.

Those professionals at the top of the tree, who are centres of influence, create strong relationships, and are the source of great referrals will tell you that the driver of their success is effective networking.

Really effective networking is about the human connection. If you go with an open mind, a positive attitude and a view to meeting someone you have something in common with its amazing how it all comes together.

Here are the 5 things you should do at your next networking function:

  1. Have a well-practiced, engaging and simple introduction. Your response to thequestion “so what do you do” needs to be impactful and relevant. In around 30-45 seconds it should clearly explain to the listener what you do, how you do it and what use it might be to them.
  2. Be ready to connect. When you walk into the room introduce yourself to the first person you see standing alone. They’ll welcome the contact and you just never know where that conversation will take you.
  3. Ask open ended questions. How, when, why, where, tell me, explain to me type questions. How did you start your business?  Why do your customers do business with you? Where do you think your industry will be next year?
  4. Be interested and interesting. When talking with someone, become really engaged, don’t look over their shoulder for your next “victim”. Really listen to what they have to say, participate in the conversation and demonstrate your interest in them. Be interesting.
  5. Follow up. The next day send those people you connected with an email to thank them for their time and explore ways to build the relationship. Maybe attach an article or refer them to a website they might find interesting. This is not the time to hard sell!

Whether you’re looking for resources, information or clients; networking is one of the best ways that I know to tap into more opportunities than you could imagine - if you know how!


About the author: Stephen Pead is a marketing and media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in providing high performance sales training for salespeople and sales managers via his company Sales Solutions.