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Ask yourself this question. Would you rather make a cold call or follow up with a qualified referral; that is, someone who has already expressed some level of interest in your product as a result of an endorsement from someone else?
Okay, so maybe this question can be classified as a rhetorical question. If you would rather build your business off referrals, is your sales funnel bursting with potential new business that you've generated through networking and by utilizing a referral program? If not, then you will certainly have the opportunity to make this a reality and experience it firsthand after implementing the following strategies.
What is that, you say? You don't feel comfortable going to a networking event, into a room filled with people you don't know, and then have to ask a complete stranger for new business? How about those special interest groups or lead groups where the intention is to help other people build their business by sharing referrals? I have news for you. Most people feel the same way. Chances are, you don't enjoy networking because you feel that you're alone, "out there" all on your own. Hey, it takes a lot of courage to fly solo and into an event where you don't know anyone. Yet, maybe there's a way for you to change your mindset around this.
To begin, lets take a moment to define what networking actually is (in the spirit of selling). Networking is the act of meeting new people, often in a social setting with the intention of interacting with them, exchanging ideas, and developing mutually rewarding relationships that would ultimately lead to creating new selling opportunities which would bring in additional business.
One of my clients, Cindy, was a stay-at-home mom looking for ways to generate some additional cash to help out her family with the monthly expenses. To do so, she found an outside sales position selling a line of self-care products. This position gave her the freedom and flexibility to create her own hours, while honoring the priority in her life, which was her family.
Cindy knew that in order for her to make this worthwhile, she needed to maximize the little time that she had to devote to her business. After speaking with the top reps in her company, Cindy quickly realized that the only way to leverage her prospecting time was if she put herself in front of as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. As such, she began to search for local networking groups, trade shows and business events that she could join or take part in.
Cindy called me one morning and shared her situation with me. Finally, she said, "Keith, I am so uncomfortable attending these functions with people I don't even know. And even if I did start talking with someone, I wouldn't know what to say or how to stimulate their interest in what I am selling without sounding pushy or overly aggressive."
I then shared several observations that she considered to be the treasure she needed to make networking a prospecting activity she could actually enjoy.
1. Bring a Wingman: Rather than flying solo at your next networking event, bring a friend, co-worker, or business associate along with you. This "security blanket" will boost your confidence as well as your comfort level and immediately removes the bulk of reluctance associated with attending a networking event by yourself.
2. You Are Not Alone: If you ask most people who attend networking events, they would tell you that there are certainly some feelings of apprehension and fear when it comes to meeting new people (if they were being honest). Rather than placing yourself in the class of people who you perceive to be the minority, instead, consider that you are amongst the majority of people who feel the same way you do.
3. Keep Your Intentions In Focus: If you expect to go to a networking function and walk out with a handful of business cards from people who want to buy from you, think again. To maximize your networking effort
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|