Fine-tuning your team’s networking skills is crucial for sales success. Networking is one important aspect of your career that never goes out of style. We can all relate to receiving dozens of emails about networking events or leadership conferences to attend. There’s always some sort of meetup to attend if you’re looking to expand your network.
Networking can be tough. For even the best sales leaders, it’s easy to feel like you don’t have enough to bring to the table or you lack credible experience. On the other hand, the dynamics that we hold so truly in sales may not play over exactly the same in networking. Believe it or not, being a top seller doesn’t necessarily make someone a top networker.
The more you network with new people, the easier it becomes. Networking is a very rewarding experience if you learn how to do it right. As a sales leader, it’s your job to prepare your team to be successful at networking.
Check out these tips help you and your team get the most out of a networking event.
5 Crucial Networking Skills For Lasting Impressions
Do your research. Know who your targets are and what you want to say to them. Tailor your topics of conversation to different people or parties. Be versatile in case you’re asked tough questions or meet someone you share little common ground with. Make sure to do research on people you plan to speak to beforehand so you can ask knowledgeable questions and make the most of your time with them.
Enter With an Open Mind
Networking events can seem like a chore, but if you dread the experience before you even arrive it’s guaranteed to not go well. It is important to prepare for any event (whether with people you already know or new contacts) with an open mind and positive attitude. This will not only make you more attractive to potential employers and clients, but you will enjoy your time and get the most out of the experience. No matter how many other networking skills you've perfected, a poor attitude will inhibit your success.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
This seems like a given, but remember that it’s okay to brag about yourself and your company! This may not involve talking about that huge bonus you just got, but it can include breakthroughs you and your team have had. It will not only prove you are a valuable asset in your field, but it shows people that you set goals and achieve them. Talk about triumphs your team has made together like meeting a record-high sales goal. Showing off the accomplishments of yourself personally and your team as a whole makes you look like a great leader and team player.
Someone with great networking skills knows that networking isn’t all about “me.” Networking in itself may actually be more about the people you’re meeting than anything else. They’re the ones full of the fresh insights, experiences, and ideas that you’re seeking. They are the ones that can introduce you to your next top client or to a new position that can sky-rocket your career. Learning from people who have already accomplished what you want to is a great start to getting to where you want to be. Take note of other leadership styles that you may not be utilizing or unique incentives to motivate your team. Also, be a good listener! Learn from other people’s successes and mistakes and apply these lessons to your own work. But remember, what works for other won’t always work for your team’s culture.
Don’t Sweat a Bad Experience
Sometimes networking events don’t go as planned – given the sheer number of variables involved with a networking event, this shouldn't be surprising. Maybe you stumbled over your words, maybe you told a joke that was funnier in your head than when you actually said it out loud. It can be easy to worry what colleagues and competition in your field will think about you, but remember that there are many chances to recover. Learn from your own past mistakes and enter the next experience more prepared and aware. Practice makes perfect! Be yourself and try to avoid head trash at all costs.
At the end of the day, networking is about building relationships and gaining insight from people with different experiences than you. In many ways, the networking process never ends. You never know when you will meet your next boss, mentor, or colleague. Having a team that is “always on” and able to talk confidently about your company and its achievements leaves a lasting impact. Remind your sales team the importance of stepping out of their comfort zones because it might introduce them, and you, to the next great opportunity you’ve been waiting for!
Have any questions about networking skills? Ask Taylor in the comments!
Taylor Shotwell is currently a sophomore in the Gabelli School of Business at Fordham University. She is pursuing a degree in Finance with a minor in Economics. For questions or advice, feel free to email her at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with her on LinkedIn.