How do you view networking? Most of the salespeople we work with would answer that it has something to do with meeting people and finding a chance to share what they do, with the end goal of creating new sales opportunities. Interestingly, what we have found out from studying top performers is that this view is not only too limited, but can hold you back from reaching your sales potential.
Instead of trying to go out and meet new customers at events or industry functions, try doing what the Rainmakers do: get into the habit of meeting people and finding out about them with no strings attached. In other words, be very intentional about making new contacts, but not necessarily about turning them into “prospects.”
Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of networking for salespeople? Nothing could be further from the truth. As producers, our job is to help people solve problems. And so, when we meet new people, we should be thinking about finding ways to learn more about them, not just see where our products and solutions fit. There could be other ways for us to contribute, perhaps by just helping them make a connection to someone else we already know, or possibly passing along a piece of information or advice we’d once received.
By taking the focus away from selling and moving it onto helping, we start to build a reputation of integrity and credibility over time. That, in turn, helps our networking campaigns to bear fruit. Why? Because the more people we have met, gotten to know, and helped, the more people want to help us as well. You can call it professional courtesy, reciprocity, or just good old karma, but having a lot of contacts that think good things about you is going to lead to calls and introductions down the line. It might be weeks, months, or years later, but your network will start to pay off like almost no other lead-generating activity can.
Every person you meet probably knows at least 100 other people, and some know several times more than that. If they were impressed by the impression that you gave – because you are truly invested in helping out, not just making a sale – it’s only a matter of time before they run into someone who could use your name.
Remember that, and work on growing your social and professional circle. Attend professional and industry events. Look to serve on the boards of nonprofits and get involved in clubs or organizations that revolve around your personal interests. They’ll help you meet even more people and live a deeper, more fulfilling life at the same time.
A lot of salespeople mistakenly think that networking is “old news” because they’ve never tried to do it the right way. But by putting your focus on helping people, rather than just selling to them, you can make it a powerful tool in your prospecting campaigns.