Networking and selling are not mutually exclusive. Networking builds relationships and relationships always form the foundation to satisfying client and customer relationships. Expert networkers know this and rarely ever use a networking event to demonstrate their selling skills. Networking is an incredible promotional opportunity to talk with others about their business and to do your best to help them make connections to people who can use their products or services.
It’s about making friends before you need them or their services. You do not sell at networking events. It is the time to prospect and build relationships. You can be a savvy connector for others and yourself.
“If (networking is) done properly you meet new people, engage in friendly conversation, exchange business cards, and usually after meeting these same people 2, 3, or 4 times at similar events you agree to meet privately for coffee, where you share greater detail about each others business in hopes that the other wants your product or service or at least knows someone else who MIGHT be able to use your product or service.” – Michael Schuett
Selling on the other hand requires you having to learn how to really be a salesperson. It is a skill that can be learned, yet lots of people who network prefer networking because they think they really don’t have to sell. These people are part of what I call the “business cards at the ready” brigade.
Many actually fear selling. You’ll hear them say, “I just don’t want to be pushy.” They haven’t learned the art of persuasion. People like this just don’t know any better. They become pushy and aggressive, self-serving idiots at networking events.
They hope that the contacts they meet will like them and automatically buy from them and they won’t have to do any selling. These people are misinformed. My friend, Tom Hopkins, once said, “People will only do business with people that they like and trust.” We are talking relationships here. Building relationship takes time. Networking is important but it is not the end-all – you still have to finish the process with follow-up and by closing the sale.
Networking is a business activity and not a friend-trolling activity. It will help you keep the focus on why you’re really there; to help others. Selling requires proactive activity by the person wanting the sale. It’s not passive, which networking tends to be.
Top sales people support their client or customer’s buying decision, give them the information they need to make the right decision and build trust in order to do business with them.
After networking comes the follow-up. During the follow-up is where the selling starts – where it is understood that you are selling your products or services.
I love people and networking is fun but unless you ask for the order after you have developed the relationship, you are just having fun and not selling. Many business owners and sales people today are simply hiding behind their networking activities, their Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook accounts. Remember, face-to-face contact is where the sale is made.
If you attend a networking event and become just a card collector and never follow-up you will become an undesirable addition to the “people to avoid” list at networking events. Being in sales mode at a business networking event is not only inefficient and stupid; it is a big turn off.
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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