So you think you know how to network? Most salespeople consider themselves as a good networker, but yet they will admit they don’t pick up too many good referrals from it. Why, if you are good at it, wouldn’t you have a lot of success at networking functions? Reality is most people are going about it all wrong because you have never been taught how to network effectively. Let’s explore common types of networker.
The first type of networker we’ll call the slather and gather networker. This salesperson or insurance agent is on a mission to gather as many cards as possible and get out. They just slather, talk as little as possible to people, and grab cards like they are in a contest that gives prizes for the most cards gathered in a short period of time. They use this for emails and a mailing list. What could possibly go wrong? The other business people don’t remember their slather at all. Not only do they not know who the heck they are, but there is no creditability in what they do. They haven’t built any type of relationship. There is no prize for speed.
The second type of networker is more common and known as the spray and pray networker. This salesperson or insurance agent runs around like a honey bee on steroids in a flower shop handing out their business cards and flyers to as many business owners as possible. Then they go drop to their knees and pray someone calls. Sometimes it is bound to work, but overall not very effective. The same issue exists, there is no creditability built among these people. Unless your product brochures are so special or unique, don’t count on many call backs.
A good networker goes into to the event with an expectation of helping someone else grow their business. They talk to people to find out how their business works and how they might best be able to help them not the other way around. There is a psychological effect that if I help you solve a problem then you will feel obligated to help me solve my problem as well. BNI, Business networking International, refers to this philosophy as Givers Gain. Spend time with a select few people then build the network slowly and efficiently. There is no prize for speed networking other than a big waste of time. Spend your time developing a referral source and less time just finding clients out of propects.
A great quote from Zig Ziglar states, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want”. I find this to be true.
Image courtesy of jscreationzs at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 25 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.