How to use your networks to accelerate sales
By Adam Blanch
As a species we just don't like strangers very much - they represent a potential unknown threat. Getting over the line into the 'friend zone' is hard to do without a mutual acquaintance, group membership or common interest to connect you. That's why referrals are far and away the best avenues to get new business. Of course, to get referrals you have to utilise your networks of colleagues, customers, friends and acquaintances.
So how do we tap the potential of our networks without destroying them? Use your networks badly and you will create distrust, erode relationships and tarnish your reputation. Use them well and you will likely see your sales go through the roof. Here are the essentials of good networking.
1. Be trustworthy
Have you ever made a referral and been let down by the person you referred? Not only do they damage their own brand, they sour the relationship between you and the person you sent them to. The first step in getting referrals is being worthy of them, which means you need to deliver on what you promise, be easy to work with and have impeccable integrity.
2. Make referrals
The easiest way to get referrals is to give them. The more you give others a leg-up, the more they will want to return the favour. Spend time with your networks and actively try to connect them with one another and help them solve their problems.
3. Give more than you get
We trust the people who we believe are genuinely interested in our well-being, and we refer the people we trust. When you go out of your way to help others, even if that means a little free service or pro bono help, they get to experience the quality of your work (or your products), as well as developing trust for your brand.
4. Be visible and be engaged
Go to networking meetings, conventions, courses and chamber of commerce events. Give talks, write blogs, share great information on social media, call people to ask for their advice on things and generally be where your prospective clients are. Every hand you shake is a possible sale, and every friend you make is a potential referral.
5. Be positive
In tough times everyone gets a little down, so be the exception to the rule. We all want to be inspired by people who are passionate, positive, generous, kind and motivated. Be the sort of person who isn't afraid to share your dreams, for yourself and the world around you. The higher we lift others, the higher we rise.
When things get tough, the tough get out there and network. Have you worked your networks lately?