Two Steps to Make Your Networking a Sell-Free Zone

Article by Donna FeldmanLately, everywhere we look, from the in-flight magazine in our seat pocket to the Sunday Style section of the Denver Post we notice an article on networking: the right way to network, the wrong way to network, what it is, what it isn’t, how to, how not to, and more.

We’ve decided it’s high time to weigh in with our own personal networking pet peeve: mixing networking and selling.

Networking is not selling! Haven’t you ever noticed that when you go to a networking event, most people are there to promote what they do, and few, if any, are there to buy? If you attempt to close sales at a networking event, you will most likely leave disappointed and frustrated, while at the same time alienating the people you meet.

In the past two weeks, we’ve had three different clients come to us with negative networking stories, all of which involved someone trying to sell to them, either at the event or the next day. One person said she doesn’t like to give out her cards, for fear that she will receive a slew of sales calls for things she has no interest in.

So what’s a savvy networker to do? Focus on building relationships while training a sales force.

1. Networking is about building relationships. You network to meet people who get to know you — and your service or product — so they can help you grow your business. And even more important, you can help them grow their business — by sharing referrals, resources, ideas and information. The best way to be an expert networker is to be an expert resource for others.

2. Networking is about educating people, not about selling to them. The people you meet networking are your potential sales force. With a little training, they’ll help spread the word about your business.

To do this, they not only need to know, like, and trust you, they also need to recognize who is a good prospect for you and be able to tell that prospect what exactly it is that you do. You need to clearly articulate who your clients are, what problems they face, and what solutions you provide, and do it in such a way that when your sales force meets a good prospect for you, they respond with: “Hey, I know someone who can help you with that!”

Remember, networking is not about closing a sale. Focus on the two
steps listed above and you’ll not only generate more business from
your networking, you’ll enjoy yourself more in the process.

This article was co-authored by Donna Feldman and Cindy Rold. Donna and Cindy are The Networking Gurus.

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