I Don’t Have Time To Network!
“I don’t have time to network; I’m trying to make a sale!”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that phrase….well, I’d be writing this article on a beach in Maui and not at my kitchen table. Networking is one of the single most cost-effective ways to promote your business and ultimately gain sales. It is the very beginning of the Sales Process, although it is rarely treated as such. Often times networking is viewed as a way to meet other people and “hope” they might need your product or services, so that you can sell it to them.
Like any other step in the sales process, networking must be planned, the targets identified, and the steps conducted. I often ask people if they schedule networking into their calendars. The answer is usually “No, I do it when I have time, which isn’t very often, and it doesn’t work anyway.”
The whole concept of networking is based on developing groups (networks) of people whom you know and who know you. This does not happen because you exchange business cards with someone at a happy hour. Developing a network
of people takes time and effort.
It requires that others see and speak with you frequently. Expecting to develop a network and gain sales
by going to a networking function
1-2 times a year, is similar to expecting sales from a one hour billboard advertisement.
Equally important to networking frequency is the group or location. There are many opportunities to “formally” network, so where you choose to spend your time greatly influences your success. There are several networking models, all of which can be effective, if used properly. It is the type and blend of these models that determines the rate of success. I will be discussing this issue further in an upcoming article.
Networking is based on finding the right people to help you and for you to help. It is not necessarily about getting an immediate sale, although it’s nice when that happens. Networking is about forging a relationship from which the parties can mutually benefit. In other words, it’s not a one-way street. You might have heard the expression “what you give comes back to you twenty-fold”. Those people who are the best networkers live by this mantra.
What greater incentive is there for someone to help you, than if you have helped them?
At the foundation of any network, is trust and rightly so. Most people would not “refer” a doctor or plumber to a friend having only swapped a business card at a happy hour. Business referrals are no different. Trust can only be built through time and frequent positive interaction.
In order for networking to be effective, there must be a paradigm shift from “selling” to “relationship-building”. During a networking event, the goal is not to make a sale, but rather to make contacts and if appropriate, schedule a meeting.
With this in mind, here are a few “rules” to follow while
Aside from your elevator speech, you should really not say too much. The object is to get the other person to tell you about them and their company. Through appropriate, open-ended questions, try to determine if this person has the contacts you need and/or could be a prospect, in which case schedule a meeting.
There is a fine balance between staying with one person too long and moving on too quickly. You do not want to stay there and hear more information than you need to make the determination noted above. If it is interesting and you want to speak with this person further, schedule a meeting to continue. However, the other extreme of quickly passing out business cards and not asking enough questions to make a determination, doesn’t work either.
Finally, as with any other sales related activity, understand your goal for each event and accomplish it. The goal may be to meet several people and explore their businesses. While on the other hand, it may be to talk to one individual that you feel is critical to your overall objectives.
If done properly, networking can be a powerful tool in your sales process. While there are many, many more “rules & methods” that are critical to the success of your networking activity, the shift in thought from “get a sale” to “meet a contact” is most critical.
“Shift from Sales to Relationship-Building.”
Michael J. Cronin founded ResTech Solutions, LLC in 2002 after 15 years in the corporate world.
He has hands-on experience in a number of functional areas and has worked with both domestic and international organizations. ResTech Solutions prides itself on the development of practical, cost-effective programs for its clients. For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation, please contact Michael at (484) 883-2707 or email@example.com.
To learn more about the power of Networking and the Sales Process, and how it can dramatically improve your business, please contact ResTech Solutions, LLC at (484) 883-2707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.