When most people think of networking, there seems to be a negative visceral reaction to it. However, when you look at it as a lead generation tool, it is a great way to lay the foundation for get more sales without spending a lot of time and effort. Anyone engaged in sales must learn use the power of networking as a tool in order to ultimately win the opportunity to make the sale.
Developing a networking strategy allows you to reach people that you may have never met and gain leads while developing solid relationships. Most people don’t have the right mindset, don’t know where to network, and are not sure how to behave so that the experience works for them. There is no doubt that networking allows you to have more business leads. All it takes is a few simple strategies in order to be successful at networking.
First, let’s take a look at how the mindset of the old-school, less effective way compares to the Book Yourself Solid way. The old-school, less effective way does not support maximizing the opportunity for lead generation through networking. In Book Yourself Solid, Michael Port has identified some of the antiquated methods that support a mentality of scarcity and fear where people ask themselves:
- How can I push my agenda?
- How can I get or keep the attention on myself?
- What can I say to really impress or manipulate?
- How can I use each contact to get what I want or need?
- How can I crush the competition?
- How can I dominate the marketplace?
The primary objective for successful networking is connecting with the right people. Therefore, we have the more enlightened and modern approach which is the Book Yourself Solid Networking Strategy where there is clearly a shift in your mindset by asking yourself:
- How can I give and offer to others?
- How can I help others to be successful?
- How can I start and continue friendly conversations?
- How can I put others at ease?
- How can I best express my sincerity and generosity?
- How can I listen attentively so as to recognize the needs and desires of others?
- How can I fully express myself so I can make genuine connections with others?
As you can see, the mindset shift is the first thing that is needed to be successful at networking.
The next question that people ask when it comes to networking is where they should go. Four of the most useful places to look are volunteering, your local chamber of commerce, industry conventions, and social media.
- While often time-consuming, volunteering is a wonderful way to meet people while doing some good for your community.
- Your nearest chamber of commerce is designed to promote networking between local businesses.
- Industry conventions need to be looked at as a lead generating opportunity. Salespeople from non-competing companies as well as attendees can be helpful contacts.
- Social media offers networking opportunities that can promote lead generation for you. LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, can help you to get in touch with potential resources.
Lastly, there is a certain amount of protocol that works to your benefit if you follow it. While it is true that most of the skills required to build and maintain a network are the same skills you have been using to sell your product or service, it is best to resist the urge to sell to your networking contacts. The best approach is to let them know what you do and tell them a bit about your products and services. The goal is to get others to look out for you when they hear of a business opportunity for you and you will do the same for them.
The old maxim of being a friend before you need a friend works well under these circumstances. Your will become known for being the person who looking for ways to connect other people. You reputation will bring you more lead generation and you will also be respected among your peers.
Once you get your networking process in gear, you will have a process that will become a virtual lead generating machine. All you have to do is keep your contact information organized and call or email your prospects regularly just to keep in touch.
So get out there, make contacts in person and through the internet. And always remember, sales works best when you add that human touch of caring and sharing.
About the Author: Chantal Debrosse is a Certified Book Yourself Solid Coach and is based out of Atlanta, GA.
This article was inspired by insights derived from the Book Yourself Solid system. More tools can be found at Book Yourself Solid or here.