Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Result Oriented Business Networking

When you start networking knowing that networking is all about building relationships, and only secondarily to sell products and services, your focus will be on what you can do for the people you meet rather than what they can do for you.
  • This means you have something valuable to offer the people you meet. Some information to solve a problem or answer a question that you are able to provide them without expecting immediate reward. Over time, you will build credibility as someone who truly cares about other people, is trustworthy, and reliable. That’s when you begin to reap the benefits.
  • Building an effective network of qualified contacts takes time, and requires making an upfront investment in other people without immediate return. Your first contact with a prospective customer is not the occasion to make a ‘sales pitch’ or attempt to impress him or her with your qualification, experience and what you can do. It is an occasion to gather information.
  • Ask about the business the other person is engaged in, ask if you can stay in touch, and actually follow up the next day with a note or a phone call referring to few of the things you discussed the day before, with an offer that he subscribes to your free newsletter or blog. Keep in touch at least once a week with useful information touching on problems he mentioned in your discussion, and how you could help.
  • The quality of the free information you provide your prospective customers will determine whether they become actual customers in the near future, and that in turn, depends on how attentive you were during your discussion and how much of the detail you are able to recall. Therefore, immediately after the discussion and you have parted with your contact, write down the problems he talked about while it is still fresh in your mind.
  • It may take a while before someone you met the first time at a trade show or an informal gathering to respond positively to your correspondence. It may well be that he already has a company handling the problem he talked about, or is waiting to get additional information from you about your company before making the switch. It may also be that he has a contract with another company and must wait until the contract ends before doing business with your company.
  • For these reasons don’t get discouraged if things do not happen as quickly as you expect. Your focus should be on learning all you can about your prospective customers line of business, the effect of new technology on the business, future trends, and how you could be helpful in solving their existing or future problems.
  • The temptation to start networking by trying to meet and give your business card to as many people as you can find is hard to resist. Instead, aim for quality contacts, meaning spending more time developing relationships with people who have shown interest in your line of business. It is better to have few contacts who respond to your letters or phone calls than to have a large number who do not.
  • The benefit of having quality contacts is that everyone you meet knows on average 250 people. Your initial goal in networking is not to get the people you meet to become your customers, but to become part of their network, and for them to become part of yours. Every positive impression you make on a quality contact puts you in reach of potentially another 250 people, who in turn, will put you in reach of potentially tens of thousands other people. The trick is to keep in touch with your contacts, and be a resource they can rely on.
Networking has become an important part of every sales strategy, but many have failed at it because they began networking initially to sell products, rather than selling themselves. When you can sell yourself to the satisfaction of your prospective customers, they will trust and respect you, and that in turn, will translate into purchase of the products you recommend or sell.

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