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  • by Henri Green

Tip 1: Networking

Whether you are a first time visitor, or a weekly reader, its great to have you hear for my newest instalment on the Meakins website.

For the benefit of those of you who are newcomers this is a weekly instalment blog in which I try to pass on “sales stuff which works” ……based on nothing more than my own personal experience …… and encourage all of you to chip in with thoughts and experiences of your own.

 

And so to this week’s topic – Networking. Now I don’t know about all of you but Networking seems to me to be something all sales people have always done! The whole process of selling is about building and leveraging a network of contacts, establishing trust and demonstrating reliability, so to me it’s not a new thing. In recent years of course Networking has become a product in its own right and there are any number of organisations out there vying for your time and membership fees…. I have networked both overseas and at home ….and I currently support 4 local groups ….. but over the last 25 years of selling a range of products and services I have a found a number of (common sense) principles hold true Here are just a handful:

 

  • Try before you buy – don’t jump into the first group you hear about. Look for well organised groups which are growing and whose membership profile suits your target sectors.
  • Look for structure – somewhere between the highly regimented and detailed structure of BNI and “a few beers at a local pub” are the groups who offer the right blend of structure and informality to deliver business benefit without stripping out all of the enjoyment of meeting with fellow business folk. It is a difficult balance to hit.
  • Commit – when you have sampled a few groups and identified the one which you believe is right you must commit. Unless you show your commitment to attending every meeting, following the structure, responding quickly and professionally to any leads put your way and taking a role within the group how can you expect to establish the level of trust which underpins any benefits you are ever likely to derive from your membership?
  • Networking Is Not A One Piece Sales Strategy – I have seen lots of companies join networking groups in the (mistaken) belief that this will eliminate the need for basic sales development such as cold calling, telesales, website and other social media based promotion. This is a huge mistake. Networking is only one strand in a strategy which should join up all of these elements.
  • Give It Time – whether in business or personal life we all take time to trust. Networking groups are no different. The general view is that it can take up to 18 months – and certainly a year – to build the level of trust which will be needed with your fellow networkers for them to start to open up their customer database to you. Don’t get into Networking as a quick fix for sales shortfalls
  • Enjoy It – I genuinely look forward to meeting up with Networking colleagues at the various groups I attend. It is NOT a chore – on the contrary it gives me high value return for my time. It provides an extremely useful “weather check” on what the local market is doing and most importantly WHO is doing it.I know there will be many more views on this and I welcome all of your thoughts and stories on the value and approach to Networking…..Tip No. 3 follows next week so do please come back….. who knows we might even meet at a local networking event!!  

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