Sales are often developed through the relationships we have created with others. Networking functions provide the ability to expand our list of contacts, especially when we create and maintain quality relationships. It's not enough to visit a networking group, talk to dozens of people and collect business cards. However, all functions of the networks has enormous potential fornew opportunities. Here are five strategies to make networking profitable:
1. Choosing the right networking group or event. The best results come from taking part in networking events relevant to your particular industry. This should include trade shows, conferences, and associations dedicated to all kind of activities. For example, if your target market is Fortune 500 companies, it makes no sense to join a group whose primary membership consists of individual business owners. You can also join groups where your potential customers gather together. One of my friends helps people to negotiate the lease of their owners. He joined the local franchise group because most franchisors lease their properties.
2. Focus on quality contacts versus quantity. Most people have experienced the person who, while talking to you, keep your eyes wandering around the room, seeking his next victim. This person is more interested in the collection of cards rather than to establish a relationship. My approach is to have two to five new contacts at each networking meeting I attend. Focus on quality of connection and people will be much more confident you.
3. Make a positive first impression. You have exactly one chance to make a good first impression. Factors that influence this initial impact is your handshake, facial expressions, eye contact, interest in another person and listening in general. Develop a great handshake, people come up with a natural smile, genuine and make good eye contact. Note the color of the eyes of another person present. Listen carefully to his name. If you do not hear or understand exactly what they say, ask them to repeat. Many people do not speak clearly and loud enough and others are very nervous at networking events. Make a powerful impression by asking what they do before talking about you or your company. As Stephen Covey says, "Seek first to understand then to be understood." Comment on their business, ask them to elaborate or explain something in more detail. As you continue, make sure to listen carefully to what they say. Once you have expressed interest in another person, they - in most cases - to pay more attention to you. When this happens, follow the step outline in the next step.
4. Ability to clearly articulate what you do. Develop an introduction for about ten seconds as well as a 32 second presentation. The introduction explains what you do and for whom. For example: "I work with retailers store to help them increase their sales and profits." This introduction should encourage the other person to request more information. When they do, you recite your thirty second presentation. " Bob Smith, High Profile clothing wanted a program that would help his sales managers increase sales. After working with them for six months, we obtained an increase of 21.5 percent of sales. In addition, sales of their premium line of neck ties has doubled in that time. "As you can see, this is an example of your work and the typical results you help your clients achieve. Each of these introductions need to be prepared so that you can recite them at all times and under all circumstances. You must be sincere, genuine, and as I recently heard a speaker say "dry bones right."
Follow-up after the event. In my experience, most people drop the ball here. But monitoring is the most important aspect of the network. There are two specific strategies to follow:
- First, immediately after the event - usually the next day - you should send a handwritten letter to the people you met. Mention something from your conversation and express your interest to keep in touch. Don't forget to include a business card in your correspondence.
- Then, within two weeks, please contact the person and make arrangements for coffee or lunch. This will allow you to learn more about their business, Capital Market Studies the challenges they face and how you could potentially help them. This is not a sales call - it's a meeting of building relationships.
Networking gets results. The more people get to more know about you and your company, the more they trust you, the more likely they will either work with you, or refer someone else to you.