Up until a couple of years ago I avoided networking like the plague! I believed I could use my business development skills and confidence to Prospect, get past Gatekeepers, get referrals from clients etc, that’s ok but now it’s not enough. Prospects need to do more due diligence on us and feel reassured in their decision making. And they’re right to do so!
Then I realised that the very best way to get through to decision makers is to leverage a genuine relationship with the target Prospect. That means we need referral based introductions! That means we have to ask our existing connections for help and develop new ones to find new Prospects. It’s a never ending journey and we need to be piling in the opportunities at the front end or its feast and famine time! And we luck out in our pipeline and pin too much hope on too few opportunities!
Why else should you network? Apart from broadening your contact base, you will:
Be Of More Use to Your Clients
You can find businesses that can be helpful to your clients. Now that is providing value to them! How often do you spend time working out a reason to call? What better way than to say “I met someone recently that I believe it’s worth you having a chat with about that challenge in your business. You never know, they might have some good suggestions. Would you like me to introduce you to each other?” It doesn’t matter if the conversation doesn’t progress they still appreciate that you were thinking of them and that really cements your relationship as a supplier!
Get Easier Access to Businesses You Want to Talk To
You may even find some of your Prospects and Clients at some of the events and you can develop those relationships further too. How cool is that- you can be in the same place at the same time with the person/ business you have been labouring to reach!
Get More Exposure
You will find out about events you can go to which will create further opportunities for your business. Also you get the opportunity to speak if you want and people will support you! They will want you to succeed!
Make Better Decisions
You can get valuable advice, feedback and insights into your ideas which challenge you to be more customer -focussed. It’s too one dimensional if it just comes from us/ our business.
The common theme here is to help and develop relationships. And that’s the key, please don’t go to any networking even expecting to sell unless you are already in that process with someone you meet there.
Please go with the mentality “who can I help and how can I help them?” Then keep applying this principle and people will reciprocate and help you too.
Sales is all about helping people make better buying decisions. If you use networking as part of your business development strategy you’ll be developing your skills and a competitive edge on those who don’t! Get out there and make it happen!