Networking can be a double edged sword in any sales person’s career. Many times, the negatives can actually outweigh the positives.
It’s all about our strategy.
You see, when we first enter into a new networking environment most of us are overwhelmed with what we see. There are new people everywhere. Clicks have formed in previous meetings and we don’t know how to break through. Do I walk up to a group and kind of stand there in a quiet and somewhat creepy way trying to find some way to break in or at least look like I’m interested? Or do I pick out the other new person in the opposite corner, hoping that they are talkative enough to carry the awkward conversation that is about to take place once we get our 30 second speech out of the way? My answer is yes and yes as well as no and no.
Before you check out because I totally confused you, think about it for a second. What is the purpose of why we went? How can we be most effective with that limited time we have? It’s all about our preparation. Are you looking to meet 1 new prospect, 5 new prospects, make friends, or just fulfill an obligation your boss gave you? Do you want to hand 25 business cards out and follow up later? We need to set goals for ourselves before we enter the room, the earlier the better so we can practice our approach.
I am going to keep this short and sweet by providing a couple of very valuable tips. And they may seem very basic to you, but I ask if you are really practicing them?
Set goals for yourself every single time (ie: number of contacts made, business cards passed out, etc)
Don’t approach each new conversation trying to sell your product or service. Find out as much as you can about the person you are speaking with and share things about yourself with them. Let the “sales” conversations happen in the follow up calls and meetings.
Perfect your 30 second speech. You want to make sure each person knows what you do in a simple and concise way. If you stumble you lose credibility and frankly if you cannot explain what you do, how can that person be confident that your service will help them do their business any better?
If you are having a bad day or don’t want to be there, don’t go. This is a tough one, especially if we work for someone else. But being ineffective by projecting our negativity on potential prospects taints our personal reputation and that of the business we are representing. And if you can’t get out of going, talk yourself through what positive things will come from the event and change your attitude before you enter the room.
If you struggle in any of these areas, I suggest you find yourself a strong coach or mentor. In most cases you will find the encouragement you need to be the best networker in the room!