If you’re new in sales, you’ve probably been told that the key to closing deals is networking in real life
. Whoever gave you the advice, though, might have neglected to tell you how to network efficiently and effectively. The following tips can help.
1. Engage in mutually beneficial networking
In his groundbreaking book, "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People" Stephen Covey advises readers, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” The same can be said of marketing and sales. Rather than plunging into a networking event with the mindset that you are going to tell everybody you meet about your fantastic new product or service, go in with the mindset that you are going to meet new people, learn from them, and make your pitch to suit their needs.
2. Network effectively by focusing on the right prospects
experts will tell you that there is a huge difference between working efficiently (getting things done) and working effectively (getting the right things done). You don’t need to meet every person in the room for your efforts at networking in real life to be a success. You only need to make sure you are introduced to the people who are most likely to be interested in what you are selling.
3. Avoid monopolizing a prospect’s time
By their very nature, most networking events involve a series of brief interactions instead of one or two long interactions. If you meet someone you would like to speak to at more length, say something like, “I’m sure there are other people here that you want to talk to, but I would like to discuss this further. When would be a good time for me to call you?”
4. Hand out business cards with a twist
Everybody gives out business cards
at networking events. You can make yours stand out from the crowd by writing a brief message on the back to remind the prospect who you are and why he or she might want to speak with you further. For instance, you might write something like, “Great to meet a fellow golfer. Let’s play sometime,” or “Will call on Friday to discuss your company’s need for motivational speakers.”
5. Make it your goal to become a resource
Consider volunteering for a position in one of your local groups that promotes networking. Be the “go to” person for those who are new to the community. Be aware of different people’s interests and offer to connect like-minded people. The more helpful you are, the more people will trust you. That means you’ll be the first one they think of if they need whatever you’re selling.
Networking can be a challenge, especially if you’re introverted, but if you think of it as a chance to meet and help people solve their problems rather than as a chance to make sales, you’re likely to enjoy yourself more and come across to others as more genuine and trustworthy.