In general, networking to quickly increase sales can often be a frustrating undertaking. Many professionals join their local chamber of commerce or business-networking group, and are initially excited at the prospect (of meeting new prospects). But the unfortunate reality is that these groups often don’t live up to expectations; so we quit and look for another way to drive sales to our business. But wait, don’t turn in your membership card just yet! There are principles of networking that do work – they may sound counterintuitive, but just wait until you see results.
When writing the book, The Connectors, I observed fairly quickly that the most successful businesspeople I interviewed were incredibly skilled at networking, but not in the way that I thought of networking. And the main reason? It appeared that they were not out to make a sale during networking. They had a mindset that fostering and creating a relationship with someone that could become a great advocate for them is good business. Ah, a great lesson learned.
The focus of networking then should not be on gaining an immediate sale from the people you talk to. In fact, that tactic almost never works. Instead, success tends to come from focusing on building advocate relationships – those that turn into referral connections, serving as a conduit to other potential clients. The goal of networking should actually be to build a mutually beneficial relationship with someone who is a connector, and one that may never even buy your product or service.
So, it’s really not about who you meet in your networking activities – it’s about who they know. It’s about building a relationship based on trust and credibility and having your advocates do the selling for you. It is absolutely genius!