All the time I hear manufacturing sales people say “I joined a networking group once but I didn’t get anything out of it for 6 months so I quit.” There are several disturbing comments from this statement but let’s focus in on networking groups. You were invited to a group by a friend (who is likely sells a b to c product or service) to go to a networking group.

Initially, you were impressed and saw that there was real business happening in the group. But the success of other members, you struggled to find people in the group who knew the companies that you were asking to be referred to. After a period of time, you gave up on the group and came to the conclusion “networking groups suck and are a waste of time”. Here is the brutal truth about networking when you are a manufacturing salesperson; the layman doesn’t understand what kind of referrals that you are looking for. But wait…how am I supposed to grow my business when we all know that cold calling died in 2005? The answer lies is strategic networking groups.

The only fit for you, manufacturing salesperson, is to network strategically. Your best solution to networking is to meet with other non-competing salespeople who are calling on the same manufacturing companies that you are. These individuals will have a much better understanding of what you are promoting, who you want to meet, and how you can get in the door. Strategic networking is the answer of obtaining more business in less time.

Where would you find such a group? Start out on LinkedIn and search for groups. Try goggling “manufacturing networking groups in (your area).” Ask your company’s vendors if they know of any such group (or ask your company’s owner to be introduced to the company’s “top supplier vendors”. Be proactive, start your own! Even if you start with one person who you can share referrals with, you are on the pathway to growing your business in a relational way.