OK, all you sales staffers, it’s nitty-gritty time. I’m about to give you the Magnificent 7 of Networking — seven interconnected fundamentals that will allow you to build effective and profitable relationships for your business.
Remember, every move in making a connection with a prospect has one purpose -– to compel them take the next step. Whether that step is to supply your organisation with ongoing referrals, add them to a newsletter database or purchase a product is not important -– the individual must act.
So, here’s the Magnificent 7. Each fundamental cannot be applied successfully without the one that precedes it. Each are intertwined and significant to the final outcome.
Fundamental No. 1: Purpose
You must identify your team’s purpose for networking, with the ultimate goal of going from connections to monetisation. The biggest challenge businesses face is that networking isn’t taken as seriously as marketing. Networking is marketing, too, and must be outlined to keep individuals on task and focussed.
Fundamental No. 2: Message
You must clearly define the message you are taking to market to ensure it aligns with your customers’ values and, most importantly, that your team’s messages match and represent the larger organisation. Miscommunication can destroy even the most earnest effort to make an influential first impression. If the message wavers and is unclear, prospects will be unaware of your team’s role in the bigger picture.
Fundamental No. 3: Presence
Your team must be memorable, and the only way to achieve this is through presence, which builds credibility, trust and connection with prospects and existing clients. The identity of “self” is a basic facet of effective networking. A team that lacks self-confidence and presence will feel the pain in sales results time after time. By discovering their identity, when staff approach a networking situation they will have an innate confidence that connects and produces larger-scale positive outcomes.
Fundamental No. 4: Package
You must package yourself and your team as a marketable product that establishes instant credibility with your target market. Your package includes the way you behave and, most importantly, networking etiquette. Does your staff understand networking etiquette practices or do they go in blindly and risk insulting others with their actions? For instance, in Asian cultures you must accept a business card with two hands and acknowledge it before placing it in your pocket. The higher you play, the more important these finer distinctions become.
Fundamental No. 5: Image
You must style yourself and your team visually to establish instant presence and credibility and be taken seriously. About 55% of all communication is visual. If your staff fails to impart the correct impression of themselves and your company while networking, they will fail to gain trust, influence and satisfactory outcomes. Put basic grooming policies in place and review them regularly to ensure teams are adhering to them. Your team is, after all, the front line in many cases.
Fundamental No. 6: Connection
Your team must learn the real way to build business relationships with energetic and emotional engagement techniques that help build lead streams. We each have the potential to shift someone neurologically via our interactions -– whether we anchor positive emotions with the business brand is another question. Have your team interact and engage at varying levels of energy to better connect, i.e. company policy that all prospects and alliance partners must be greeted with a smile. You may think this is basic, but I can assure you that not all of your team members are practising this.
Fundamental No. 7: Action
Your team must leverage all of its skills, abilities, credibility factors and resources to streamline and automate its networking to maximise productivity. Failure to follow through on influential connections is detrimental to your business’ income. Put in place a step-by-step networking and touch-point system for your staff when meeting new business connections. This takes the guesswork out of the process to produce more effective outcomes.
Author and speaker Ben Angel has trained the likes of Toyota, VECCI, the Australian Institute of Company Directors and the Real Estate Institute of Australia on effective networking practices. Contact him at [email protected].
Image by Luc Legay