Networking is a timeless practice for bringing in new leads and opportunities. However, it is often an activity that creates busy salespeople bringing in less than desirable results. When and how does networking work? What are the key principles of success for making sure you are networking versus NOT working. Here are a few to consider:
- Choose your network wisely. One of the biggest places that salespeople waste time is having coffee, breakfast or lunch with potential referral partners who don’t have the “get it” factor. These are people who practice taking and not giving . It’s usually not intentional because they are people that have been trained by old fashioned sales training to ask for referrals versus give referrals. Salespeople that “get it” understand the power of connecting and giving. They proactively plan time out of their calendars each week to introduce and connect people. Top salespeople understand the power of becoming the “go to” person in business. In a world overwhelmed with data, they are the shortcut to information and people. How do you know if you are a giver or taker? Just do the math. At the end of the week, add up how many “gives” you deployed that week. It doesn’t take a fancy CRM tool—a yellow sticky note with slash marks will serve you just fine.
- Invest before you expect a return. Developing a robust referral strategy means taking time to understand your potential referral partners ideal client, problems they solve for clients and trigger events that can enhance the timing of introductions. In a world built on instant gratification, many salespeople try to bypass the investment piece of building relationships. Here is a key principle to remember: processes are efficient, people are not. A potential referral partner is not going to hand over their best client or colleague to you without knowing your personal integrity, expertise and client relationship management. This takes more than the investment of one meeting or one cup of coffee.
Tim Sanders, author of “Love Is the Killer App” says it best: “Your network is your net worth!” Make sure you are choosing your partners and time wisely.