From today’s mailbag: “I’ve taken on a new role and know I need to network to make new connections, but it’s not really my thing. How do I go about it?”
Carson: No matter what type of business role you are in, it’s extremely probable you will have to network at some point. From networking and utilizing your network effectively to land a job to prospecting and creating new network, the people you can connect and collaborate with play a vital role in your success – and theirs! Do not forget it can often be just as important that they know you! You likely offer value and service, and it’s important they know it, too.
If you lack comfort with networking, fret not – some of the greatest salespeople and sales managers I know are introverts. The fact is you likely do not enjoy being in a room filled with strangers and having to force conversation – right? More people feel this way than you probably think. Furthermore, those who appear to be social butterflies often either do not want to be or they had to learn how to master this part of the dance. Like any type of business or personal relationship, you cannot start a fire without a spark. We will never find new connections without making effort.
Some of us are more comfortable behind the screen of our computers, and, honestly this is not a bad way for the whole process to start. Utilization of social media is a magnificent way in this day and age to find the people you should be connected to, making an introduction and setting up the initial meeting. It makes it easier to find who we need to meet, make an introduction and briefly present why a meeting would be valuable. Asking for advice or guidance, explaining why their expertise interested you and assuring them you are not seeking an interview or a job (by not mentioning either!) can be great ways to get yourself to the table the first time.
Preparation is another key for success in networking. Whether you are going to a networking event or using the web to meet new connections, having a game plan is crucial. Sure, we may still fumble at times – specifically if we are too rehearsed – but being observant, listening for key words in conversations, talking to the guest speakers after they deliver their speeches, or even simply saying, “Hi, I’m _______, what brought you here today?” is a great way to begin the process itself.
At networking events, others are there to network also. Listen for cues of how others start conversations! They are likely doing the exact same thing and have once been in your shoes. Do not over-think it: others are there to find value in the room. You may not meet your next mentor or customer while you’re there, but you are establishing a presence as a resource. Like any process, if you consistently apply the proper principles, results will follow. As you continue to plant seeds, seek out ways to be a value to others and establish yourself as a resource, others will introduce you to more people you need to connect with… and the dance continues and it becomes easier.
Are you comfortable talking about your value – great! If not, focus on this first as your initial goal will be to feel good about your process. Once you have a process, like anything else, you practice it, evolve it and be consistent with it. From there, you will build and grow the foundation of a network that you will engage in many often very fruitful ways for years and years to come.
Carson V. Heady posts for “Consult Carson” serving as the “Dear Abby” of sales and sales leadership. You may post any question that puzzles you regarding sales and sales leadership careers: interviewing, the sales process, advancing and achieving. You will also be directly contributing to his third book, “A Salesman Forever.”
Question submissions can be made via LinkedIn to Carson V. Heady, this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carson-V-Heady/125078150858064?ref=hl , Twitter via @cvheady007 or e-mail at email@example.com or you may post an anonymous comment as a reply to my WordPress blog at the bottom of this page: https://carsonvheady.wordpress.com/the-home-of-birth-of-a-salesman-2010-published-by-world-audience-inc-and-the-salesman-against-the-world-2014/
Carson V. Heady has written a book entitled “Birth of a Salesman” that has a unique spin that shows you proven sales principles designed to birth in you the top producer you were born to be.
If you would like to strengthen your sales skills, go to http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00ICRVMI2/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_yGXKtb0G28TWF