1. No networking is bad networking
Ease up on the measurement, include a mixture of events. Give them a decent length of time before bailing out. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve heard that a networking event was ‘rubbish’, “I got nothing out of it”.
How do you measure it? Is it sales leads? Awesome advice? Access to a new networks? One day that ‘rubbish’ event could bear fruit, that guy you met two years ago helps you, your business card is pulled out of the bottom draw etc. many new job opportunities come via this route too. Our Far North Partner network was built up over years of relationship building.
2. Be yourself
The best piece of advice was given to me by my father “at the end of the day son, you’ve gotta look at yourself in the mirror”. As a sales professional this is super important, never sell something you don’t believe in. In sales (and life) situations, integrity and honesty goes a long way. The purchaser may have his head on the block and they are putting their trust in YOU not the product or service. At the end of the day no-one likes a phoney.
3. Be interesting
We’ve all heard people buy from people, but would you buy something from Mr or Mrs Dull who hardly leave the house and have no interests. The sale should be enjoyable, an interesting experience for both sides, a win-win scenario. The reason we are in sales is because we love meeting and selling to people. The relationship building side of sales doesn’t have much to do with what you are looking to sell, it’s about how you got to the meeting, the car you drive, your latest gadget, your daughters gymnastics trophy, your sports teams success, the CD you are listening to…you get the picture. Do nothing and you have a pretty boring discussion on your hands.
4. Be interested
So you’ve been on the traditional sales course and they say “you’ve got two of these *wiggles ears* and one of them *points to mouth*. Just sitting there whilst someone talks and you listen, doesn’t work, that’s actually called hearing.
Learn to listen. Things to be mindful of include, body language, nodding, focus, relaxing, but the main skill is ‘the feedback’. This involves waiting for a pause and confirming back to the speaker that you understand, often using their words.
A change of scenery can be a welcome break for the busy executive. It’s amazing how much we experience when we travel, new cultures, landmarks and learning how other people go about their day. This helps you to be interesting as well, relaying stories on how things have really gathered pace here and there is big investment there. Market visits are a great experience too, you never know who you will meet and what relationships could be forged, next thing you know you are exporting!
6. Commute wisely
My drive to work is always between 30-60 minutes and meeting attendance could see me staring out of the windscreen (windshield for our US friends) for 6 hours of the day. Forget listening to the latest pop songs on the radio and listen to podcasts and audio books. Podcasts are fantastic for researching a particular topic, why not try The 10 most popular TEDx talks. I once gave myself the task of ‘reading’ the top 100 books, according to the BBC. This also helps in being interesting and having opinions, you can’t declare you don’t like Emily Brontë if you haven’t read Wuthering Heights!
The benefits of this could be a post of its own. Most of my thinking, writing, soul searching is done whilst running in the hills or swimming back and forth. This alone time is my therapy, filing the days thoughts into their respective boxes.
A busy executive should always make the time for exercise. Benefits include improving mood and sleep, reducing stress and anxiety, and of course reducing the odds for stroke, diabetes and heart disease.
The tangible results help too, you have a glow in your cheeks, the new suit fits well, someone mentions you are looking fit (if only!), all this boosts your confidence which is expressed when you sell. In terms of networking, you never know who you will meet in the gym!