smiling manSuccessful sales start and end with referrals. And referrals come from people. Which means you need to know and connect with people to build your sales through referrals. Which means: Networking!

Networking inspires all sorts of analysis and dread, but in the end, building relationships and being genuine count. You network to sell a product, promote your company, find a job, find new clients, learn the latest from others, or gain more visibility in the business community. Networking opportunities exist everywhere–business meetings, professional associations, alumni groups, sports groups, community groups, weddings, parties, and any place people come together.

Prepare yourself for easy, painless, productive referral networking. Connect with the long list of people ready to do business with you–right now (And remember that “lead generation” is a two-way street).

  1. The 10-second introduction: This is also known as the “elevator pitch”. Develop an engaging, specific, and concise way to talk about your business. Create a “hook” to grab your audience so that they say, “Tell me more!”
  2. Smart preparation: Calendar events and practice insightful questions. Set a goal for each event. Remember, referral networking is connecting and building relationships, rather than collecting hundreds of business cards. Think, “Contacts and referrals that matter.” Quality over quantity.
  3. Meaningful interaction: Look for friendly conversations, and keep an eye out for the person standing alone. Move graciously from group to group, and always ask, “How can I help you?” Ask for business cards and write notes on the back to help you remember that person and their need.
  4. Proactive follow-up: Organize your networking contacts noting how/where you met them, what you agreed to send or do, and a plan to follow-up. Always follow up, and do what you promised: make an introduction, send a relevant article, or provide a referral!
  5. Nuts & bolts: Wear your name badge on the right-hand side, read and use people’s names (everyone likes to be called by name). Wear a jacket with pockets to carry all those business cards to hand out and collect.
    * Extra tip! Keep it organized: Carry your cards in one side pocket (e.g. the left), and those you collect in the other (e.g. the right).

Finally, use a firm handshake and smile–you did it!

Need more tips? Order Weaving Your Own Network (MP3 download | CD) today! Define your referral networking strategy: Thoughtful preparation, strategic interaction, and disciplined follow-up methods. Learn more!