The ability to network is one of the most important skills any entrepreneur or salesperson can have. Essentially, the definition of ‘networking’, according to the Oxford Dictionary, is “Interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional or social contacts”. But in the sales industry, it’s so much more than that. Many people go to networking events, but very few people know how to network effectively.

Networking is about more than just getting out and meeting people. Networking is about introducing people that you know to other people. You must have heard the saying: “It’s all about who you know,” and this couldn’t be more apt if your goal is to be an excellent salesperson. If you want to be the best, then you’ll have to build the best network possible.

Think about your personal network for a minute: these are the people that you know. Then think about all the people that your existing contacts know. Think of the ways that you can meet and get exposed to these people, and how can you build your network through the network of others.

The best way to succeed at networking is to ensure that you have solid networking skills, that you’re putting yourself out there, and that you’re attending relevant industry events, gatherings, seminars, and functions.

Instead of sitting at home watching TV on a Friday night, you should be out there building a name for yourself and growing your network.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that they initially feel quite uncomfortable in these networking situations, and it’s normal to feel this way at first. But getting out there, shaking hands, introducing yourself, and making new connections is going to be very beneficial for you. After a while of doing this, it’ll start to feel more natural.

The people that you meet at these events are there for the same reason that you’re there – to network! If you bear that in mind, you’ll already feel more at ease. At the end of the evening, you would have met at least four or five new people and you’ll feel motivated and buzzed. You never know when these contacts will come in handy, so be sure to get their names, numbers and email address, and even their social media details, so that you can stay connected.

Tips on how to network effectively:

  • Set a goal to meet two or three people at each event you attend:  Whether you’re at a seminar, a networking function, a birthday party, or an industry event, it’s important to make a point of speaking to all the people who you don’t know. Greet everyone, and introduce yourself. So many of us fall into the trap of always speaking to the same old acquaintances. Don’t let this be you.
  • Attend one or two new groups on a weekly basis:  Another great way to make a new set of contacts is to attend business organisations or activities that interest you. This can be the chamber of commerce, the arts council, a sports club, or a society.
  • Always carry your business cards:  You never know when you’re going to meet a key contact. Make sure you always have your business card with you.

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