I have known Michael Hughes for many years and can vouch for his expertise in the area of networking. I read this article from his blog and thought you would find this piece especially interesting. Enjoy:
As North America’s Networking Guru, I’ve been relentlessly focused on researching networking, and leveraging it as a business strategy, for almost 20 years. I continue to be amazed at the way sales professionals limit themselves by perceiving networking as a tactic to generate “leads” or to “prospect” for new business.
When will they learn? The purpose of networking is NOT to tell others about your products, NOT to identify qualified prospects, NOT to share the benefits of your services. Its purpose is to act as the catalyst for your most powerful sales resource: relationships.
Networking’s true value lies in its ability to create connections, acting as the ignition point for productive and profitable relationships. Why is it so important for sales professionals to accept this premise? Because networking continues to be consistently confirmed as the single most cost- effective strategy for accelerating the sales process.
Why? Because success as a sales professional is based primarily on relationships. The ability to create and cultivate relationships will contribute more to building a successful business, career or client base than any other sales skill or strategy. Review the following points and see if they resonate with you:
-Selling as a face-to-face, belly-to-belly activity.
-We buy people first, ideas next and things last, in that order.
-We buy most-often from people we know, like and trust.
-The most important thing we sell is trust.
Reality: networking is a sales catalyst that dramatically accelerates your ability to have others see you as a competent, credible and caring sales professional.
How to network to build better relationships:
Relationships are based on three essential components: trust, value and contribution. Think of the three highest-value relationships you currently have in your professional life and/or your personal life. I’m willing to bet that the three ingredients listed above are core to each one.
FACT: All strong relationships are founded on trust. Trust is built over time and must be continuously renewed. Trust comes in two forms: professional trust and personal trust. Professional trust is included in your accreditations. Far more powerful, yet elusive to many in sales, is the personal trust that is the foundation for doing business with others. Without this first step solidly in place, selling is simply a word.
FACT: As trust deepens in a relationship, curiosity and interest evolves around mutual value. Once we gain a level of comfort and security with another person, we naturally become curious about what value they represent. At the same time, we tend to open up and share what value, as well as needs, we have. It’s a natural step step in the relationship building process.
N.B.: Isn’t it true that when we meet someone and get to feel comfortable with her/him, we naturally want to know what they do (what their value is), to see if we can take advantage of it, or subconsciously seeking to recommend this person to someone in our network? Value is the secret key that unlocks revenues and referrals.
FACT: a natural outflow of all high-value relationships is contribution. When we have a problem or need, we gravitate to those we hold in highest esteem. Those we know best and like most are the ones we want to help. Conversely, when we perceive others have made a tangible contribution to our lives in some way, we seek to return the favour. We think of them first when their value is in demand.
Bottom line: Because networking creates the opportunity to maximize all three, it really is “relationships on steroids!”
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