Do you network? For sales reps it is imperative. If you do not regularly attend networking events, or even have casual conversations with people then you are doing yourself and your career a disservice. Many people don’t routinely network because they do not see the benefit of doing it. This is incredibly unfortunate because it gives you connections, opportunities, practice in speaking with people, advice and confidence – just to name a few things.
Download A CEO’s Guide to the Future of Selling to learn more about how networking and selling go hand-in-hand.
The most obvious benefit that a sales rep can gain from networking is connections. By going to different kinds of events you end up meeting various kinds of people. The more people that you meet the better, but just remember that you won’t connect with all of them. Some people you just won’t click with, so make sure that the people you do connect with, you follow up with after the event via LinkedIn or email to start building your relationship.
Another thing to remember is to not turn down chances to connect with someone just because they’re not in your industry or (to put it bluntly) you don’t think you’ll benefit from. You never know what’s going to happen down the line. Those people could become very handy, and could introduce you to other people that it would be good to know.
Connection and opportunities are very closely linked, but whereas connections are about meeting new people, opportunities are things that happen because you’re meeting new people or attending a new event. Opportunities come in abundance once you start networking, and for sales reps this is critical. A connection you make might give you an opportunity to introduce someone to your product or company. Even just attending an event can present you with opportunities to further your business, meet new people, and put yourself out there so that people know you. Every opportunity you gather helps you further your business and your career.
Practice makes perfect. It’s a cliché, but it’s true, and attending networking events is perfect practice for sales reps (learn how to prep for them here). Sales reps need to be able to speak to various kinds of people with confidence and ease. Some people have a natural ability for this, and others don’t. Either way, the best way to hone this skill is to put yourself in situations where you have to speak to people that you do not know in order to build a connection with them. This skill is transferable as you can put into practice building connections with customers when you speak with them.
One of the great things about meeting new people and building connections is that you learn a lot just by listening. Most of the people that you talk to and connect with will have been in your position at one point, and networking is a great way to get advice about your career, how to approach people, and how to handle different situations that you find yourself in (just to name a few). There is a wealth of information out there in the people you meet – use it.
Everyone likes confident people (note: confident, not arrogant). Sales reps that are confident have an easier time selling, and building relationships with customers, and the simple reason is that customers trust sales reps that are confident in what they are selling. Having confidence can take practice (as well as sales training), and networking events are a great way to gain it. The more you network the higher your confidence level rises because you feel valuable and that are people are interested in what you have to say. When you feel comfortable talking to new people that confidence grows and seeps into every aspect of your life – including your life as a sales rep.