Word-of-mouth marketing has always been and will always be one of the most successful ways to get your product or service sold. That’s even more true today. People are constantly taking in information, and one of the simplest ways they decide if that information is reliable or not is by getting advice from someone they trust with first-hand experience. Networking is the first step in making these connections.
What is Sales Networking?
By definition, networking is a chain of interconnections that cross at regular intervals. Translate that to business, and networking is a form of business activity involving contacts and building relationships to help achieve goals. It’s simply word-of-mouth marketing. You’re not prospecting, recruiting, or selling. You’re simply communicating, making relationships, and sharing information. However, these strategic business relationships are crucial for any successful sales professional.
Why is Sales Networking Important?
Good relationships and rapport with other business professionals and customers can be the most valuable resource in your toolbox. After all, you can’t sell and grow revenue without making connections. Although making good connections and having advocates for your business is good for selling, it can also help improve all aspects of your business. Networking allows you to learn from people with different perspectives and backgrounds. This exchange of ideas can broaden your thinking and help you explore successful avenues you never would have known about.
What is Your Challenge With Sales Networking?
1. Making That Initial Connection
One of the hardest parts of networking is making that initial connection. Just like any first encounter, it can be awkward before you and the other person are comfortable around each other.
2. Keeping the Connection Going
The next big challenge is staying engaged with that person. You may really hit it off with a professional contact but continuing that conversation and relationship is the key to having a strong network.
3. Finding Time to Network
Another pain point can be simply finding time to network. It’s important to set time to chat with your connections and keep up a good rapport with them.
How to Overcome Challenges
Practice Makes Perfect
If you are having trouble making that initial relationship and connecting with people, remember that things will get easier the more you do them. Your confidence will only go up the more you talk with people. Just keep practicing and be yourself. You want your interactions to be authentic, so remember, at the end of the day, networking is just a natural process of communication between two people.
Set Yourself Reminder and Make It Fun
The solution to keeping a connection going and finding time to network are essentially the same. Make yourself reminders and set time on your calendar to reach out to the people in your network and also make new contacts. This could be as simple as emailing them once a month to catch up or inviting them to have lunch with you. Using your lunch time to network can be the perfect solution for many people with busy schedules. We all need to eat, so why not make that time of day both productive and fun? For new contacts, go to professional events like conferences and join organizations that align with your goals. A business may want to join a Chamber of Commerce, while an individual looking to increase their own network could join a local Rotary Club.