Networking is necessary for sales success, the longevity of your career and the growth of your company. As you network, you will meet new prospects, new business partners, and centers of influence. In addition, you will gain new ideas and strategies for growing your business. The networking landscape is constantly changing. Learn and adapt these strategies to be relevant and productive when networking.
Set a goal.
Going to a networking event without a goal is like getting ready to leave for a vacation without knowing where you are going. Before you attend a networking event, set a goal. Determine how many people you will need to meet in order to find two or three who you can meet with at a later date. In other words, when I go to a networking event, I know I need to talk with 20 people in order to have three meaningful conversations in order to find two people I want to meet with later. Once I get three quality business cards, I’ve accomplished my goal.
Step outside of your comfort zone.
Many salespeople don’t like networking events – they say it’s a waste of time. When I investigate further, I normally find that these type of people tend to seek out the people they know and then stick with them for the entire event. Searching for friends instead of searching for business is a waste of your time. The purpose of networking is to meet new people who can introduce you to people of influence. To get the most out of networking, step outside of your comfort zone and get to know new people. Also, as you are connecting, be sure to connect with people outside of your industry.
Focus on quality over quantity.
It’s important to meet as many new people as possible. However, you shouldn’t be solely focused on the number of new people you meet. Instead, focus on having quality conversations. As you meet people, refrain from talking about yourself and trying to be interesting to them. Instead, be interested in them. It’s always better to develop relationships with five quality people rather than collecting 50 business cards from people you won’t remember the next day.
Ask the right questions.
In order to make a connection with the people you meet, ask the right questions. Here are some great questions to ask while networking:
- How did you get started in this industry?
- Why do you love to do what you do?
- How do you spend your time?
- What’s your favorite type of client to work with?
- What’s your favorite problem to solve?
- What’s the first thing you do when you sign a new contract?
- What’s your favorite way to celebrate success?
- What is something a client has said to you that really made you happy?
As soon as possible following the event, enter the contact information of the people you met into your CRM system. Be sure to make notes about what you spoke about so that you can remember something about them the next time you speak. Networking is a high-percentage prospecting activity, so you’ll want to capitalize on it. Within one day of meeting someone, connect with them on Linkedin. Also, drop a handwritten note in the mail, or at least send an email letting them know that you enjoyed meeting them. In your note or email, mention something you spoke about and give them some information they can use. This will make your presence valuable to them. Within a few days, reach out and schedule a follow-up meeting.
Keep in mind that networking is necessary for sales success, the longevity of your career and the growth of your company. As you network and meet new people, you’ll gain new ideas. As you learn and adapt these strategies for networking, you’ll notice your business begin to expand and grow.
Founder of RedRock Leadership