The Art of Business is the Art of Relationships. After all, wouldn't you rather do business with someone you know and like rather than with someone you don't know or don't like? So if that's the case, doesn't it make sense that the more relationships that you have, the more business that you will also have? So how do you create more relationships? Networking, that's how.
I've said it many times, the art of networking is the most crucial skill to your sales career. Networking leverages your sales ability by maximizing the amount of eyes and ears that are working to send you recommendations and warm leads.
Networking is not about using people. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Networking is about forming deep and long lasting relationships with people that hopefully can help you to achieve your goals. And the best way to get what you want is to help other people get what they want.
I've been to networking functions and seen "sales professionals" walking around with a pocket full of business cards, just handing them out to anyone that will take them. They walk up, introduce themselves, hand out their card, ask for a card in return and then without much more investment of time, they walk off looking for someone else to do it again with. How much benefit do they really believe that they are going to get by spending an average amount of about five minutes with each person that they meet? How much can you really find out about someone in five minutes? How much real bonding is going on here. The problem is that unless there is an immediate reward, most people don't want to invest much time in building a new relationship.
The other mistake that I see at networking functions is when the attendees seek out people that they already know and spend most of their time just chit-chatting. This is not networking. As long as you are taking the time to attend these networking functions, you might as well try to meet some new people. And when you do, take a real and genuine interest in them and their careers and look for ways that you can be of benefit to them. By taking an interest in them and their job, you are demonstrating to them the value of a relationship with you. When they realize that you are not trying to get something out of them, but instead you are looking to help them, the seeds of trust are planted and trust is the foundation of a strong relationship. But what about you and your needs? Well, the rule of reciprocity will take care of that. No one can be helped without them feeling a need to return the favor. And here is where a leap of faith comes in. Even if the person that you are helping is not in a position to return the favor immediately, somehow, someway, your benevolence will be reward, perhaps even from some unexpected source.
By repeating this process multiple times over the course of your career, you will create a network of valuable business contacts that leverage your sales ability by having more eyes and ears looking out on your behalf.
About the Author
Hector Cadena is a 25 year sales veteran with a successful track history of building strong relationships with his customers. Cadena shares his proven sales knowledge with others on his web site at http://www.hectorcadena.com