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Networking Skills

I'd be interested in learning more about Networking skills. Does anyone have any advice on the subject or know of any articles I could read? - by BossMan
Does anyone have any advice on the subject or know of any articles I could read?
One of my favorite "tips" comes from the book "Power Networking".

The tip is "Give up the lone ranger mentality". A mentality that might have sound footing in the phrase, "If you want a job done right, do it yourself."

When I was a kid I often hear the phrase, "No man is an island." Too bad it took me so long to figure that one out. ;) - by Jolly Roger
When I was a kid networking came naturally unnatural for me - I met other kids on the playground, in trees [precomputer days], at dances and parties, and at sport's events. Sometimes I networked shyly and other times half boldly. Motivation was adventure, friendship, girls, belonging, girls, something to do, and more girls.

I was full of fear. Fear is a survival instinct - fear of people, places, situations so it's a good thing - so I had to learn how to network over fear. That could be daunting to the point of withdrawl.

I believe most people grow up with some of that kid networking awkwardness still with them - they put on fronts and styles and attitudes but inside it's still naturally unnatural for most people. And then there is fear.

Knowing that is important. Admitting that about yourself is important. Knowing that most other people feel the same way is important. This knowledge opens the door for further inside information about the nature and potential of networking. - by MitchM
Knowing that is important. Admitting that about yourself is important. Knowing that most other people feel the same way is important. This knowledge opens the door for further inside information about the nature and potential of networking.
Excellent insight. Thanks Mitch. :) - by AZBroker
How about a "How-to-Network" article or tutorial. Does anyone know/have something like that? - by Calvin
How about a "How-to-Network" article or tutorial. Does anyone know/have something like that?
I suspect, Calvin that's it like the old joke answer to someone asking directions: "you can't get there from here."

Mitch, in his post, provided the map if one looks deep enough. Start at the word, "natural".

I don't know why, but we members of the selling community have attempted to institutionalize things too much. What once was companionship and friendship and man's human nature effecting an inherent willingness and desire to help others, we now seek in books that tell us to network. - by Gary Boye
What once was companionship and friendship and man's human nature effecting an inherent willingness and desire to help others, we now seek in books that tell us to network.
I have to admit that I need all the help I can get. :o - by Calvin
Hi,

There's a guy in Atlanta (although he works nationally from what I can tell) named Brian Hilliard. The company is Agito Consulting. He spoke about networking at one of our local Chamber meetings, and he seemed pretty sharp.

If you sign up for his newsletter, you can take advantage of his "open mic" offer where you can call him to discuss an issue for ~20 minutes.
Open Mic: http://agitoconsulting.com/default.aspx?PID=1705

There are also some free resources on his site, including some info about what he calls Networking like a Pro: http://agito.solarvelocity.com/Page204.aspx

Hope that helps.

Kathleen - by KSA-Mktg
Thanks for the info info Kathleen. Very helpful. :) - by BossMan
I think the key to networking is investing time getting to know the other person. One of the biggest mistakes I see people make is to dominate the conversation during an event. Instead of dominating the conversation and trying to sell someone on your product/service, show interest in the other person. Look for ways you can help them, and most importantly, find ways to keep in touch with them. When you help other people get what they want, they'll be more willing to help you.

It's been said already - be yourself, be natural, and relax.

Cheers!
Kelley - by Kelley Robertson
Look for ways you can help them, and most importantly, find ways to keep in touch with them. When you help other people get what they want, they'll be more willing to help you.
Well put Kelley. Quick and to the point. :) - by Vince
When I've been to networking activities - for example a Chamber After Hours or TGIF - I've been amused and distressed and illuminated simultaniously at the superficial and shallowness of so many conversations. The real challenge for me was to find people willing to meet outside that box - perhaps that box is the expectation of such events - and be genuine in a relationship.

Any comments or experiences of this sort? - by MitchM
The real challenge for me was to find people willing to meet outside that box - perhaps that box is the expectation of such events - and be genuine in a relationship.

Any comments or experiences of this sort?
Mitch,

I have a close business associate who is a master networker. I don't say that lightly, because, personally, I don't do much networking--but I'm in awe.

He doesn't attend any networking events. He knows a lot of people, is family oriented, and plays golf because he's a very good golfer. He also has some pet charities that he helps. He always can be counted on for a favor.

We work on a lot of joint projects. I get a lot of referrals. As a matter of fact, I derive more business from referrals from past customers than anyone I have ever known. I never ask for a referral.

I've said it before--when you try to instutionalize things that should be natural, you spend your time avoiding success. - by Gary Boye
"I've said it before--when you try to instutionalize things that should be natural, you spend your time avoiding success." -- Gary

I've been more aware of that the past few years than in the past - what should be natural in this sense in it's institutionalization becomes superficial and flat or doing business for the wrong reasons, mostly.

De you have a way of describing or illustrating a master networker, Gary, or is your close business associate's description enough? - by MitchM
I used "master networker" for lack of a better term. I don't socialize with him or share many common interests. But I do see the results and I know he doesn't attend networking functions because he has voiced disapproval of them. Similar to yours. - by Gary Boye
I get a lot of referrals. As a matter of fact, I derive more business from referrals from past customers than anyone I have ever known. I never ask for a referral
Any chance of you posting a thread on obtaining referrals Gary? :) - by Jackie
Any chance of you posting a thread on obtaining referrals Gary? :)
I would like to--but I'm not sure I can do the topic justice. I like to put things in formulaic terms and I can't say I have any conclusions about why I get so many referrals.

I know it has to do with my manner and the way I sell. I know I instill confidence in a sales conversation. I'm a firm believer that referrals come as a result of the experience you create for a customer. But it's tough to point to one particular thing.

This much I will say--and it's kind of embarrassing to talk about myself this way--but it's the truth. I sell differently than most people sell. I'm a consumer. I buy things. I buy clothes, cars, insurance. I can't help but notice things and say to myself I would never do this or that.

I think personal warmth is extremely important. I'm very warm with people. More so as I've gotten older. But I don't patronize and I don't pet goldfish. I treat prospects as if they are my customer--up to a point. At that point, I have ways to get the message across that they can only assume ownership by buying. So--people take me seriously.

Hope that helps but it probably doesn't. - by Gary Boye
I've said it before--when you try to instutionalize things that should be natural, you spend your time avoiding success.
Unfortunately, what seems "natural" to one person is anything but "natural" to another. ;) - by MagicMan
Unfortunately, what seems "natural" to one person is anything but "natural" to another. ;)
How Gary's quote speake to me is that when you put together a networking event, an after hours event with the intention of, "Hey people, let's just get together and munchie and brewskie and listen and talk and get to know each other and network and be friends and smile and get inside scoops so we can help each other and make connections and do more business." that institutionalizing of what should comes natural makes for a superficial business situation.

It may be my own awkwardness at these that's speaking - purely subjective - I see happy people at the few I've been to and I've heard they get good connections and do business.

Comparison: I joined a fraternity for a year and the institutionalizing of fellowship and friendship with all the hazing and boozing [it was a social frat] and pecking orders was obvious to me at that young age and I lasted only a year.

Years later I met with some old TKE frauters and every one had the same experience. I know others have a different experience - but when I've been to a networking event staged for the purpose of social/business connections it feels much like frat days - unnatural to me. - by MitchM
Unfortunately, what seems "natural" to one person is anything but "natural" to another. ;)
I don't think that's unfortunate. Everybody's unique. But most people have a way they bond and form relationships and friendships. I don't think those ways need structuring by others, unless there were circumstances where they needed counseling for behavour problems, etc.

If a person has problems with naturally relating to others, he/she shouldn't be in selling. - by Gary Boye
If a person has problems with naturally relating to others, he/she shouldn't be in selling.
That sounds remarkable close in concept to this recent post:
If you spend all of your time trying to "learn" sales techniques, you'll look forced and unnatural. Look for work that better suits your temperament. A true salesman is born, not made.
- by MagicMan
That sounds remarkable close in concept to this recent post:
"I've said it before--when you try to instutionalize things that should be natural, you spend your time avoiding success." -- Gary

My interpretation is that some things should not be institutionalized according to Gary - things he says should be natural [relating to the original post having to do with referral getting and so called networking events] - which doesn't include all things, those things that are learned, institutionalized.

Comments? - by MitchM
That sounds remarkable close in concept to this recent post:
I think if anyone felt the need to do so, he/she could take the time to find, and extract, sentences, out of context, in these forums that could resemble some things that McMann and Tate said. What the purpose of that would be I haven't a clue.

How about you, MagicMan? Are you a natural born salesman? I'm not.

What have you got to say about the topic of networking skills? - by Gary Boye
My personal belief is that relating to others doesn't come as naturally as some might think. Could this be why they teach children "how to get along with others" in kindergarten? Could this be why more employees lose their job for failing to deal with people successfully than failure to do the work?

In my opinion, relating to others can be "learned" just like sales techniques can be "learned" and shouldn't preclude an individual from engaging in the profession of sales. - by MagicMan
My personal belief is that relating to others doesn't come as naturally as some might think. Could this be why they teach children "how to get along with others" in kindergarten? Could this be why more employees lose their job for failing to deal with people successfully than failure to do the work?

In my opinion, relating to others can be "learned" just like sales techniques can be "learned" and shouldn't preclude an individual from engaging in the profession of sales.
I agree with all of that.

We use the word "natural" and it's easy to think of it as meaning instinctive, or born with, or hardwired. In these discussions I'm polarizing, I think. I probably am equating unnatural to artificial. - by Gary Boye
I agree with all of that.

We use the word "natural" and it's easy to think of it as meaning instinctive, or born with, or hardwired. In these discussions I'm polarizing, I think. I probably am equating unnatural to artificial.
Then to polarize "natural" it is to be authentic or genuine? - by MitchM
"man's human nature effecting an inherent willingness and desire to help others, we now seek in books that tell us to network." -- Gary


To be liked, to be approved of, to help someone, to avoid pain, to seek pleasure, all those kid feelings and more in a man - realizing that helps me network which means to me - to meet people. - by MitchM
"man's human nature effecting an inherent willingness and desire to help others, we now seek in books that tell us to network." -- Gary


To be liked, to be approved of, to help someone, to avoid pain, to seek pleasure, all those kid feelings and more in a man - realizing that helps me network which means to me - to meet people.

Mitch, what I actually said was:
I don't know why, but we members of the selling community have attempted to institutionalize things too much. What once was companionship and friendship and man's human nature effecting an inherent willingness and desire to help others, we now seek in books that tell us to network.


MagicMan's words ring true. Perhaps a sense of altruism isn't inherent as I imply with "willingness and desire to help others". I've read inconclusive opinions on it in the past.


Selling is a business. I make my own business decisions. I continue not to work any structured networking plan. And I continue not to ask for referrals.

We all have to make our own decisions in our sales careers ultimately. The value of a forum like this is that there are people here that will share their thoughts about decisions they have made and the results they have obtained. Others seem to only ask questions as if they are looking for a magic formula--or an answer that is consistent with their preconceptions. And some visit forums like this to post their affirmations. - by Gary Boye
Mitch, what I actually said was:
I don't know why, but we members of the selling community have attempted to institutionalize things too much. What once was companionship and friendship and man's human nature effecting an inherent willingness and desire to help others, we now seek in books that tell us to network.


MagicMan's words ring true. Perhaps a sense of altruism isn't inherent as I imply with "willingness and desire to help others". I've read inconclusive opinions on it in the past.


Selling is a business. I make my own business decisions. I continue not to work any structured networking plan. And I continue not to ask for referrals.

We all have to make our own decisions in our sales careers ultimately. The value of a forum like this is that there are people here that will share their thoughts about decisions they have made and the results they have obtained. Others seem to only ask questions as if they are looking for a magic formula--or an answer that is consistent with their preconceptions. And some visit forums like this to post their affirmations.
I'm in a structured networking group - BNI [Business Networking International] which I've been a part of on and off five years. It's been a business benifit and I've learned some things from it.

The only reason I'd continue to visit a forum like this is because people share their thoughts about the things they do, the decisions they've made as you say. If this place became a place of simply posturing, avoiding questions, just asking questions with no conversation - why come.

I've been her a short while by invitation - I like it. This seems to be a place where people say what's on their mind that we can all benefit from if we get into the conversation.

These forums can be instructive and fun to pass some time away on between big sales. - by MitchM
I would have to say ask a great deal of questions. Control the conversation by getting the other person to talk about themselves. This will a) Get the other person more comfortable with you. b) Give you information about that person so you can find out their needs and goals. c) Opens up doors to product/service/business. - by wlctrent
Hi There,


Networking is the most effective way to build a responsive profitable sales funnel. I thought you might be interested in this 3 part series I wrote on networking.

Cheers, Colleen - by Colleen Francis
Sales techniques can certainly be learned; however warmth, humor and passion can't be. I've seen many people learn the way to do a sales call, but lack the above, as well as empathy. Customers do want to buy from people they like.

Susan - by susana
Customers do want to buy from people they like.

Susan
I agree. Just today I gave business to vendor B because I "disliked" the salesperson I was talking with at vendor A. - by AZBroker
Just today I gave business to vendor B because I "disliked" the salesperson I was talking with at vendor A.
Just because of the salesperson? What kind of business was it? - by Agent Smith
Just because of the salesperson? What kind of business was it?
I called to schedule a service appointment for one of our cars this morning and the lady in the service department was very unprofessional in my opinion. It torqued me the wrong way so I said thank you anyway and called someone else. I've been having my vehicles serviced at that dealership for years and will most likely continue to do so but they missed the boat today. I'm sure they didn't miss my business since the service bill was only $1500 but that is my $1500 and I'll decide where to spend it. I'm still trying to decide if it was her tone or the fact that she called me "hon" that got me sideways. - by AZBroker
Customers do want to buy from people they like.
If all else was equal I do believe the customer would prefer to buy from a saleperson he/she liked. I also believe that this distinction is often lost in translation.

Example: All else is equal [Same car, same deal, same dealership.]
  • I will buy the car but I won't buy it from John. I do not like him and never have. I want Susan to help me instead.
Example: All else is not equal [Jane's experience is lacking.]
  • I really like Jane, she's my wonderful niece, but she's new to real estate and I don't feel comfortable putting my multi-million dollar property in her hands.
- by SalesGuy
I know several salespeople that successfully prospect on the golf course and at trade association meetings. However, they don’t do schmoozing and glad handing; they are overt about their sales intentions. That can hardly be compared to what most people think of as “networking.”

A few people have told me about a major sale that they made by networking. However, when questioned about the return on the investment of their time, they agreed that it is (overall) a losing proposition.

I have never heard of any company that has salaried salespeople and advocates that they spend their selling time doing networking.

Of all the sales and marketing activities that I know of, networking is the least effective and least productive. - by JacquesWerth
Of all the sales and marketing activities that I know of, networking is the least effective and least productive.
Yikes. When you say "networking" what are you referring to?
- by AZBroker
Of all the sales and marketing activities that I know of, networking is the least effective and least productive.
I tend to agree with that. However, I have witnessed at very close range two people who have enjoyed phenomenal sales success (leaders of the pack) relying almost solely on networking. I am not inferring a connection, but in both cases they are almost completely functionally illiterate, have weak presentation skills, and are very self absorbed---three traits that would seem detrimental to selling. On the plus side, both have an interest and an aptitude for absorbing an inordinate amount of product knowledge.

I have to say I was in awe of the results they obtained through networking. However, I've been around enough salespeople to believe that networking success is very rare. - by Gary Boye
The most successful salespeople I know are "well connected". ;wi - by AZBroker
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