I was given a copy of Jeffrey Gitomer’s book, “Little Black Book of Connections” which I briefly skimmed and will definitely read. One of the first sentences in the book says, “To climb the ladder of success you don’t need more techniques and strategies, you need more friends.” Clearly the focus of this book is networking.
My belief is that if you are a salesperson, or a business person then the more people you know the more chance you have of knowing what is going on in the market. If you know where the opportunities are then you have a chance of winning them, If you never knew they existed then your competition will be happy.
So the first reason to meet lots of people is to have an “ear to the ground”.
Over time you will develop relationships with people that can influence your world. These may be people that buy your product or service, or they may be people that can influence decisions in your favour. If your whole approach is to create relationships with people who can help you then you are doomed. By its very nature a relationship is a two-way thing and it is here that the less experienced sales person can really have problems. How can you bring value to your client? How do you build a relationship of trust?
The hardest part of networking is building valued relationships.
– The easiest answer is to be genuine. Take a real interest in the person and look for ways to bring them value and to build trust.
– Make commitments and keep them! If you say you will get back to them within 24 hours then deliver … even if you don’t have the answer yet, you MUST get back to them.
– Relationships happen over time, so one or two meetings does not mean you have a relationship. Meet them regularly … which could be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly or even annually depending upon circumstances. However you need to understand that there is no relationship until you have met several (I have heard the number 6 used) times.
– Do things for them. It doesn’t have to be big things, one sales manager I knew always showed up with 2 cups of coffee (one for the client). Send them interesting clippings, cheer them up when they are down etc.
– Feed them information about the market, the industry or anything that might help them.
– Never “develop” a relationship based on what you can get … always try to develop a relationship where you are giving.
A good sales person will have a network that consists everything from close friends to casual acquaintances. A good practice is to always be consciously strengthening the network by meeting new people and building stronger relationships with existing contacts.
One of the interesting questions in Gitomer’s book is “Who can count on you? Who would call you at two in the morning?” What would your answer be … besides your Mom!