Networking is THE 21st Century method of generating leads, getting meetings, and closing deals.
The process can take time; so much time, that it is easy to give up along the road to creating the results that you desire.
The following are some simple keys to networking smarter in less time. What you read may seem obvious and basic – and that’s the point. Creating revenue through relationships is not complex, and the reason so few succeed at networking is because they refuse to follow the “basics”.
- Identify Your Target Market – Your target market is defined as your “best customer”. Sure, you could probably sell to every manufacturing company, but what niche works best for your product? Where are your clients located? Which decision maker are you calling on? Get clear about who your best customer is, so others can help you.
- Collect Strategic Partners – Once you know your target market, you can identify every other service provider who also serves that target market. These are referred to as strategic partners. If you sell to steel manufacturers, then uniform sales, temporary staffing companies, oil, bearing, battery, and chemical companies sell to your target market as well. Partner with firms who are strategically aligned with your target market, trade contacts, and watch your rolodex bloom.
- Set a Goal – When you go to a networking event, set a small goal for the outcome you want to achieve for going to the event. How many strategic introductions do you want commitments to receive? How many new client introductions do you want commitments to receive? How many client or strategic introductions do you want to commit to give? Feel confident to set small goals as you get started.
- Communicate Clearly – Many reasons why people don’t get referrals is because their referral partners have no clue who you need to meet or what you do. Develop a 10-second mini-pitch that describes what you do and who you do it for. Then, practice on a 6-11 year old. If they can explain what you do in return, then you have a clear elevator pitch that will get results.
- Follow Up – Schedule time after every networking event to follow up with every commitment you made, and reach out to remind people of commitments made to you. Don’t be afraid to do it right away.
- Vet Everyone – When you meet with a new potential strategic partner, be sure that you are similar in a few key areas. You should have the same target market, call on the same decision maker, have a similar conversation with your clients, and be part of the same business event. You should also generate similar numbers of clients per year, be comfortable referring one another, and be willing to hold each other accountable for the result of a pre-defined number of referrals per meeting.
- Have Integrity – The hardest, best, and easiest part of networking smarter in less time is to do what you say you are going to do. Follow up every time. Show up every time. Create results for others, and in turn you will get the same.
Creating streamlined results through networking takes work, a defined strategy, and diligence. Keep the keys above in mind as you connect with others in the manufacturing arena, and you will create more success faster!
Jamar Cobb-Dennard is a Sales Recruiter at Hire Sales, and has worked with manufacturers across the Mid-West. More on effective networking strategies at http://hire-sales.net.