NETWORKING ISNT SELLING OR IS IT
Networking 101 tells us that networking isn’t selling. And for the most part, I agree.
In fact, the reason most sales professionals give up on networking so quickly is because they are under the impression that if they don’t make a sale (or several sales) shortly after attending a networking event that it wasn’t worth the effort.
Of course, effective networkers know that this could not be further from the truth.
In fact, the results of effective networking can not only mean increased sales to the above average networking sales professional, in most cases it can also mean easier, less competitive sales.
What’s more, the trust that can be built through networking is often only secondary in strength to the trust that is built through referral selling.
To validate this point to an even great degree, I recently saw a statistic that stated networking accounts for 15-20% of the average salesperson’s business. And I believe this statistic because I myself attribute roughly 30-35% of my business to this powerful, often underutilized business tool.
So, the question becomes, how does one become successful at networking?
Here are some suggestions:
1) Come to the realization that networking is about building long standing relationships based on trust and rapport and not about making quick sales.
2) Always follow-up with everyone you meet at a networking event (very few people do this and you will certainly stand out when you take this initiative)
3) Ask the person you met at the networking event if there is any way you help them find more business (be a giver first and the receiving will happen on its own)
4) Find ways to add value to the new business relationship (send valuable information related to their industry instead of yours for example)
5) Attend the networking event with a buddy so that you can double your chances of meeting new people while also perhaps overcoming your fear of the networking process (each of you can introduce the other to potential clients)
Finally, remember that as long as you are attending the right networking events, it is almost always worth the effort.
Why? That's simple. When you network effectively, you are not only ensuring future sales activity, you are also dramatically increasing your odds for sales success.
So, in answer to the question posed in the heading, yes, in some cases networking is selling. Just not in the traditional sense.