Before writing this blog, I tried to find a reference to the very first business network. There’s a lot of claims to be the first, but always the first in a certain type of networking. No blog, article or news report was able to actually tell me where and when business networking began. Maybe there is no real date, maybe people networked before business owners even knew what networking was. Two or three people caught up in a social situation, mentioned what they did, someone bought from the other and networking began.

Being a sales professional, I love facts and figures, and if you’ve been following me, you’ll be up to date with many statistics on networking, and how it has always been one of the most powerful forms of selling. Salespeople have a 40% success rate in closing sales from leads picked up at networking events.

So, from stats to tips. Here are 4 top tips to help you network more effectively.

What should you take to a network meeting?

It may sound obvious but the best thing to bring to any networking event is passion, enthusiasm and what I like to call, your ‘A game’. Also don’t forget key things such as business cards, flyers, leaflets, a roll up banner if possible, and as we’re in the 21st century your mobile phone. Did you know you can quickly and easily connect with people through LinkedIn using nearby field?

Quick win: If you haven’t already, download LinkedIn app and turn on ‘find nearby’ as well switching Bluetooth on.

Networking cost and time

Set yourself a budget and don’t get caught chasing something that won’t happen. Sometimes networking can be like gambling, you overspend and over commit chasing a sale that will no longer happen. Monitor your expenditure, the time you’ve spent, the leads you’ve gained, and the sales you’ve made. Are you making a profit?

Quick win: List 3 or more networking events you’ve been to in the last month and write down all costs, number of leads generated and close-rate for those leads

Find the networking events you enjoy

Another obvious solution when it comes to networking but so many people tell me they don’t enjoy the meetings they go to. Some tell me that they only go because they enjoy the event even though they haven’t yet made a sale. It’s a hard balance but come back to the above point: cost and time. Make sure you enjoy the events you go to as attending those you don’t will show either in your personality or sales ability. There are a lot of networking event’s, so I’d be surprised if you can’t find the meetings that you enjoy.

Quick win: Take half an hour to check on social media which events get good coverage and check with professional contacts to find out which events they enjoyed.

The follow up

If you’re not going to follow up with potential leads, then just don’t go networking. Think of all the hard work you go through preparing for the event, the effort at the meeting, to then never do anything afterwards. A lead has expressed an interest in your product if you don’t follow up someone else will. 80% of sales professionals do not follow up on leads. I still find this fact amazing.

Quick win: Schedule an hour in your work diary after every network meeting to send out follow-up emails, make calls to referrals given, etc.

Networking expectations?

Next steps!

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