How to Succeed in Networking
Mar 08, 2011
The word "networking" in sales today has many meanings. As part of what you need to do to become a successful salesperson, everyone will say that networking has to be part of your plan to secure new business. Yet, not every successful salesperson actually participates in "real networking" and few are very good at it.
Networking, in a broad sense, means getting out and connecting with as many people as possible to make them aware of your existence. The goal then, as a salesperson, is to encourage these new contacts learn about your business and work with you in the future. True networking is far more involved than that. To be successful in securing business from networking is like making any sales call; you have to have a good lead in approach and you have to be prepared to work that lead until something develops. To many, cocktail parties are networking and while it is true that you can develop business from attending them, real networking is a far more disciplined requirement.
Here are points to keep in mind to be successful in networking:
1) Networking requires a plan. (Just to attend this or that event is not going to lead to maximum success.)
2) Network requires commitment to continue to get involved. Attending a party and saying 'hi' is not networking. Networking involves participating and growing within that network or organization.
3) Network in things that truly interest you. Learn about the networking opportunity before you attend. If you decide you want to attend a gaming-networking event and you have no clue what gaming is all about you are wasting your time. If you have a genuine interest in gaming and can talk about it then you can introduce your services over time. Also, don't try to pretend you know more than you do.
4) Don't get involved in too many networking opportunities; develop one or two and grow within those networks. It is easy to get sidetracked because there are so many networking possibilities but there are only so many hours in the day. Keep focused.
5) Follow up regularly with your network. Add them to Linkedin, Facebook, etc. Treat each contact like a sales call. Stay in touch.
6) If you say to someone you are going to do something, do it. If I met you at a networking event and I offer to get together for lunch then call the next day and set that lunch up. Don't be casual; be committed.
In my 35+ years in sales I found that the best networking opportunities I developed happened when I was in charge in some capacity of that networking group. I have participated in many boards, volunteered many times to set up events, been a guest speaker and have done more than my share of "grunt work". Each time I have risen within an organization I have gotten business. More importantly, because I was interested in what I was participating in, I benefited first and foremost by the gratification that I was helping and giving back. Making a sale was secondary yet equally rewarding.
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Written by: Hans Hansson
Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 26 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website, http://www.commercialspacefinder.com/.