As they get more successful in business, it is said that people’s networks grow. This happens through word of mouth from satisfied customers. But how did they get their customers in the first place. Apart from the usual ways of finding customers, like mail shots, advertising and cold calling, a lot of people engaged in “networking”.

One of the questions that I most often hear is as follows, “How and where should you network?” Read on for the answers, and also find out what RAISE really stands for!

Where should you Network?

Now before I answer this, I would like to apologize in advance to all of the associations that I am a member of! You need to network where your customers and business partners hang out. So if you sell to Accountant’s you should go to accountant meetings. I see too many business people who just go to their own industry body meetings.

Don’t get me wrong, it is still valuable for sales people to go to informative events, where other sales people attend. You should however aim to have a ratio of about 3 events that your target audience attend, to one of event relating to your own industry.

The ultimate networking situation is the 1-to-many event. This is where you are the speaker or presenter. This means that many people are listening to you as the expert.

What Does RAISE Stand for?

Good networking skills raise your profile, and single you out as someone who people should meet. The acronym Raise is as follows;

  • Referrals – When you meet someone new, by speaking about what they are interested in, and by asking smart questions, even if they are not a prospect for your business, the likelihood is that they know someone who is – so ask them for a referral!
  • Advice – People at events, are generally very helpful, and will gladly help out people who ask for advice. Asking someone – “how should I go about.” will nearly always lead to a really helpful answer, and indeed an ally you can rely on later.
  • Industry Information – The only way we can improve our understanding of our customers’ industry is to spend time speaking to people in the industry. We all know, that a deep understanding of our industry niche is vital, in order to successfully serve the market, so use these events to increase your knowledge
  • Sales – all business owners are in sales. Asking the correct power questions, will uncover buying needs, and indeed, it these needs that create buyers that you will ultimately sell to.
  • Extend – The more people you know, the greater your circle of influence. By extending your network, the chances of people hearing about you through traditional “word of mouth” exponentially increase.

Don’t Talk to Strangers?

We all grew up being told not to talk to strangers by our parents. This does make networking events and indeed public speaking may seem daunting for many people.

Just remember that, the people you meet feel the same way, and are only too delighted to meet someone who is genuinely pleasant and wants to talk to them.

Do you have an elevator pitch?

I believe the classic misnomer in the sales and marketing is the preparation of your 30 seconds to 2 minute elevator pitch. This is what you would say to your ideal prospect as the two of you rode an elevator together.

Use those 2 minutes to get the prospect to talk about them selves, using what I call Power Questions.

Remember, when you are talking, you are not learning, and when you finish talking, you know nothing new about your prospect, and you can not guarantee that they actually listened to you either.

Do you find growing your company revenue easy? Maybe you just need a few pointers. Many companies who request a free sales and marketing assessment, are able to find ways to dramatically influence their business. It costs nothing, how will you feel in 6 months, if your revenue is still the same, and you did not try a free service?

This article was written by Peter Lawless, founder of 3R Sales and Marketing – For previous articles like this, visit 3R’s Articles. Alternatively, subscribe to Success our free monthly Information Bulletin with sales and marketing articles.