Developing relationships is at the heart of networking and sales growth
Networking is a terrific opportunity to increase sales. Developing relationships is at the heart of networking and, as you grow your connections and get to know others well, the trust factor increases. As trust builds, others are more inclined to want to do business with you.
Networking today extends far beyond handing out business cards, shaking of hands and telling others to give you a call. To truly embrace networking takes a substantial amount of time and energy if you want to do it right, but this investment is well worth the effort.
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When you invest energy in getting your name recognized and meet others you'll have a much higher chance of growing your customer base and connecting with others and form mutually beneficial relationships. Here are a few ways to grow sales through effective networking:
Attend business networking events
Business expos, business to business socials and other like events are great ways to get your business name out there in the business community. Perhaps other businesses are looking for services or products to help support their initiatives and you might be able to fulfill this need.
While your long-term goal is to boost sales, keep in mind the key to these events is to build relationships, and not expect swarms of sales overnight. If you network with the relationship facet in mind, you'll eventually build a larger clientele or customer base as it will come naturally over the course of time.
At these events you don't want to come across as totally self-promotion and get right down to business; if you network sensibly and make a concentrated effort to show interest in others and what they have to offer, the networking relationship will be more successful.
As you set up your table, be prepared to offer information that people are going to find interesting. While you don't want to focus on passing out cards, it is still a good idea to have a stack of business cards on hand (and some swag with your logo and/or business name doesn't hurt either!)
Additionally, when networking at events designed for B2B meetings, you may find some strong potential partnerships that would be mutually beneficial. Be sure to attend events whenever possible, engage in good conversation and make connections.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter - all of these social websites can be used to build your network. These sites are only a few of the countless places to network in cyberspace, and the options and possibilities are many. What's important is to find either general or niche-oriented sites to connect with others and show them what you've got.
Blogging about your company, service and/or products can also help you network in the blogging communities and pick up business through sharing of information. Many businesses use blogs as a marketing tool - not to mention it helps the business become more personable if done well. Content is vital, so be sure to offer something of interest to readers. Simple advertising and in your face showcasing of your products is not going to be as effective as offering something more tangible.
If you can find the right audience and fill a need, then you should see a boost in sales, providing you can deliver. By establishing an online presence you'll have a higher probability of being seen. Companies that avoid an online presence do not get nearly the exposure they could have through online networking.
Network through good service
Excellence in customer service is much more likely going to bring in returning customers as opposed to poor or mediocre service. In a sense putting a high emphasis on quality customer service is going to get word of mouth referrals and you can essentially network through your returning and loyal customers.
Referrals are one of the highest compliments a business can receive and are more credible. This is because the endorsement comes from customers, not from a carefully crafted ad or marketing campaign. Satisfied patrons are the best form of advertisement.
Be positive and proactive
Demonstrating good people skills is an important part of the networking process and friendliness, interest, positive demeanor and an overall willingness to help others is going to go a long way towards networking success.
Those who gripe about the industry, the economy, problems with customers or any other negative topic aren't going to be interesting or attractive to the audience you're looking to network with. Negativity and reaction rarely yield the same good results as being positive and proactive.
Networking as a means to boost sales is a great technique that can bring terrific results. What's most important is to understand and recognize the importance of relationships. If you can do this, you'll be off to a good start and, in the end, likely to find higher sales numbers and, as a result, see better profitability.