If You Must Make Resolutions, Part 2

Networking Resolution #2: I will not sell my product or services while I am networking.

This is a very difficult resolution to follow and a more difficult concept to explain. For most business people, the reason we network is to grow our businesses which probably means selling more. And yet, for other business people, the reason they don't like networking is because they hate selling. Imagine how much easier it would be to network with an agenda of building relationships that will strengthen you and your contacts, instead of networking with the agenda of selling. If you meet someone and write them off because they didn't buy, you've lost any chance at a referral from any of their contacts.

Certainly you can use networking as a prospecting and sales strategy. Here's how you do it. Craft an introduction that includes your features and benefits. Ask questions right away to establish whether or not someone is a prospect. If they are, collect their card and set a time to follow up. Now, move on. During a two-hour open networking event, you could meet up to 20 people if you spend less than 5 or 6 minutes with each one of them. If your standard close rate is 10%, two of those people will become customers.

These sales will be transactions. Not the start of a long-term relationship. You may get repeat buyers and perhaps even referrals, especially if your product or service is outstanding. You can become successful doing this. But you will find this to eventually be self-limiting unless you are willing to continually join new groups, explore new markets, and move on once you've pitched everyone in the group.

Make networking more fun and pleasurable by thinking of it as marketing. Marketing is cool! Selling is for pushy people. Marketing is fun! Selling means getting turned down. Marketing is about developing the brand and creating an image! Selling means pitching everyone in sight.

See how much better you feel about networking if you can think of it that way? And, if you must sell, focus on the most important product of all: yourself! Sell people on your character, your helpfulness, and your reliability. When the time comes that they need your product or service, you won't be selling them at all. You'll be helping them solve a problem.

Rules of thumb to live by if you're going to keep this resolution. If your 30 second introduction includes a pitch for your product or an invitation to meet up to discuss your services ... you're selling. If you give them 5 of your business cards so they can refer their friends to you ... you're selling! If you put them on your mailing list without asking first ... you're selling!

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