One of the keys to developing and sustaining a profitable business or sales portfolio is ensuring that you have a proper and refined networking strategy. It is without a doubt that nowadays most business is generated through networking, word-of-mouth advertising and referral marketing. It is important for any business professional to understand that networking is just as powerful as any other form of marketing. However, most professionals often make unintentional mistakes when it comes to leveraging the power of networking to grow their business.
Here are three mistakes you must avoid when networking with other professionals.
Asking for the sale right after you connect
Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have proved to be powerful networking assets for business professionals across the world. However, many make the mistake of of being very presumptuous and pushy with the individuals they meet through these platforms. This is especially true for LinkedIn.
There are millions of professionals across the world utilizing this platform to grow their business, sales portfolios or to seek new career opportunities. If you are looking to grow new strategic partnerships and relationships with contacts through LinkedIn, it is important to realize that developing a relationship online is very similar to growing a relationship with someone in person. No one is going to simply give you business via e-mail communication after reading a LinkedIn profile. Before you attempt any contact with someone, do your research on them, their company or organization and what benefit you bring to them.
Carefully doing your research will avoid you wasting time connecting with people who are not real decision makers. After doing your research, proceed to add people to your LinkedIn network. Create a personal message when you invite them to connect. When they accept your invitation, send them another personal message explaining who you are and give them information about your company. Ask them about their business and ideal client and invite them to schedule a “get to know you” call.
Avoid asking too many questions from the very beginning as this may raise suspicion. Focus on building a relationship and let people warm up to you. If communication seems to be two-way, proceed to begin pitching your products or services.
Focusing on yourself instead of focusing on the prospect
Another mistake that many business professionals make is focusing too much on their own strengths instead of giving full attention to the needs and desires of the prospect. The prospect is focused on solving their own problems and doesn’t want to hear you talking about how successful you are.
It will definitely surprise them and spark their curiosity if you display interest in finding out exactly what their needs are and how your services and products can fulfill those needs. Whether its reducing costs, increasing productivity, creating streamline processes, decision makers have some sort of need that needs to be met by your product of service. Instead of bombarding prospects with the ins and outs of your company, your experience and your reputation, shift the focus onto figuring out exactly how your service and company can help the prospect. Again, networking is all about generating value for everyone, not just you.
Not following up on new connections
Lastly and most importantly, why connect with people on social networking sites and not take full advantage of the connection? n one hand, you do not want to be perceived as a spammer or an aggressive sales rep, but on the other hand, you want to take full advantage of someone's acceptance of your invitation to connect while their awareness is still fresh of who you are.
How many times have you traded business cards with someone then put their card in your drawer and never spoke with them again? The same thing happens on social media. We connect with people on LinkedIn and never have any communication with them.
People tell me they have lots of LinkedIn connections but nothing happens. When I ask if they ever reach out to their connections they always say no. People that do reach out to their connections always seem to have a steady stream of new clients.
One of the easiest things you can do to accelerate a new relationship is the send a short email thanking them for connecting with you. Be genuine and show your appreciation. To maintain your relationships reach out to them occasionally to see how they’re doing. Say “Happy Birthday” and they will thank you. Congratulate them when they have a new job or received a promotion. It only takes a few seconds and it keeps you top of mind.
Networking is easy when you focus on helping others and taking a genuine interest in their business. When you focus on building relationships the sales will come. If you focus on making the sale, you may make a quick sale but your chances of landing a long-term customer diminish dramatically.