Step 6: Build Your Network
Build Your Network
Sales is about making connections, though not just with customers. Your long-term success as a salesperson depends on your ability to collaborate with others. Networking, whether it involves securing employment, generating business leads or seeking professional advice, yields immeasurable rewards. Building your network will also make it easy for you to make connections to companies or industries by connecting to seasoned professionals.
Many salespeople find it tough to commit the time necessary for effective networking. These tips will help you fit some key strategies into your regular routine.
Network to Seize Opportunity
The first step is to be proactive in learning about – and exposing yourself to – others within your field. Explore the following networking opportunities:
• Network with Sales People: Where applicable, respond to questions on sales career-related communities. Establish yourself as a valuable resource, and you will likely win the respect, advice and interest of your colleagues. Who knows? You may even catch a recruiter’s eye.
• Gather Information: Research your trade and learn about fellow experts within your field.
• Be a Fan: Attend a seminar held by someone in your vocation. After the seminar, send the person an email, advises Len Foley, a sales trainer located in Atlanta. Note your thoughts about the seminar and suggest that the two of you meet to further discuss your mutual professional interests. Moreover, find out what networking groups this person belongs to.
• Join Industry Focused Groups: JFind out where your local industry events and networking groups are. Join an organization in your field to enhance your skills. Joining a group will keep you in the know about new faces and developments in your profession. It may also expose you to the advice of experts and will allow you to share your expertise and, thereby, strengthen your “brand” among your colleagues.
• Identify Yourself: When networking and attending related functions, make sure you have a name tag and you’re easily approachable. If the event you’re attending doesn’t supply a name tag, convert your business card into one.
• Don’t Shy Away from Expert Advice: Listen carefully when a colleague or field expert offers advice. In addition to good counsel, she may give you the inspiration you need to fuel your next big effort.
• Don’t Limit Your Contacts to Your Industry: Be open to meeting people in all avenues in sales. You never know when you may be one person away from the person you’d like to meet.
Build your network before you need it. The great myth of networking is that you start reaching out to others only when you need something – like a job. In reality, people who have the largest circle of contacts, mentors and friends know that you must reach out to others long before you need anything at all.