The idea of networking effectively and creating a sphere of influence is nothing new in sales. It’s a facet of sales that everybody understands and executes. Networking is one sure way of meeting new people, building relationships, and it eventually opens doors for opportunities.
Likky Lavji has been meeting people and building relationships for 30 years. He built and grew his IT company based on his referral network. By the time he sold his company, he had ample knowledge about how to do the business. Now, he’s sharing his knowledge with others.
The old methods of doing business
Face-to-face meetings and getting to know people before starting the business are old methods of doing business. Today, people depend on social media to grow their business. We are bombarded with social diversions making us adept in communicating using social media platforms. The downside to that is it’s becoming more difficult for many to have conversations face-to-face.
As salespeople, we need to combine old and new methods to make it work. It’s great to go back to the basics. Look at your existing base of connections and get to know them. Identify your best clients from your database, the ones who not only bring in revenue but referrals as well. Once you’ve identified your clients, you can start building your sphere of influence.
Creating your sphere of influence is easy to do. You need to know your people and reach out to the people they know as well. In a networking event, look for the person who has people around them. Find an opportunity to start a conversation and be authentic. Don’t force anything. It has to be organic.
Likky once stuttered and it held him back. With the help of Bob Burg, the author of The Go-Giver Way, he was able to move past his stuttering.
It’s normal to have some level of fear when talking to strangers in a networking event, or anywhere else. However, that fear can be overcome. You need to veer away from the misconceptions of others. Put those aside and just be who you are. People fear networking because of the notion they have to sell. Change that mindset and think of networking as meeting people and making friends.
Don’t go into sales mode right away.
Likky uses the acronym F.O.R.M. to start conversations:
F – Family. Everybody wants to talk about their family. Some people even have their family photos in their wallets. You can talk about their dogs too.
O – Occupation. You can ask about their occupation. For example, ask them how they got into their business.
R – Recreation. Find your common ground and talk about their hobbies and interests.
M – Message. These are the things you stand for.
Listen to what they say
Build meaningful conversation and listen to their response. Ask more questions about their interests. It doesn’t matter if they don’t ask you questions because this isn’t about you. Make sure they do all the talking. Bob uses 10 field questions when meeting new people such as, “What do you enjoy most about your profession?” and “Describe the strangest thing you’ve experienced in your business.”
People get excited when talking about these things. It’s your job to hear and understand what they’re saying. Show empathy and put yourself in their shoes. Understand what they’re going through. Listen well, take notes and follow-up.
In Bob’s book, he suggested listening with the back of your neck. This means listening to what they’re saying and putting everything aside. All the words would go through your mouth, your face, through your ears, and to the back of your neck. There’s nothing else present except for those words coming into you.
Giving out business cards isn’t the best way to execute networking effectively and creating a sphere of influence. Whenever Likky sees he may need to give away his business card, he tries to avoid it.
Connect them to others
In networking effectively and creating a sphere of influence, another way to do this is by giving referrals to someone else When you meet people in a networking event, ask them who their ideal customers are and you will see there are others in the room who have the same audience that they have. Refer them to those people and help them make a connection. They will learn to trust you because you helped grow their business. Don’t worry if the referral sources aren’t 100% successful. All you need to do is make the introduction and let them have the conversation.
If they want to do something for you in return, then talk to them about the kind of customers you are looking for. Consider having a meeting with them first so they know who you are and what you want. You’ll also get to know who they are, their centers of influence.
If you meet somebody and you promise them something, always make sure to follow through within 24 hours, either by email or follow-up, because they may forget you beyond that time frame.
A handwritten letter or card is also a great idea in networking effectively and creating a sphere of influence.
Start building relationships and connections before you start selling. The more relationships you build, the more people know what you do, and the easier it will be to get referrals and make business happen.
When it comes to building your sales income and boosting your sales, developing the skills of appointment setting. It pays more than the skill of closing sales. The secret to mastering the art of appointment setting is persistence, being assertive, and being polite and professional.
“Networking Effectively and Creating a Sphere of Influence” episode resources
Connect with Likky Lavji and visit his site. He has a free workshop coming up and you can check it on www.salespitchmastery.com/register. For other sales concerns, you can also reach out to Donald via LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Use these practical sales tips and let him know how they work for you.
This episode is brought to you in part by TSE Certified Sales Training Program. It’s a course designed to help new and struggling sellers to master the fundamentals of sales and close more deals. Sign up now and get the first two modules for free! You can also call us at (561) 570-5077.
The episode is also brought to you by Sales Live Miami. It’s an event put on by a group of friends and it’s designed to help sellers and sales leaders improve their sales game. It’s going to be this November 4-5, 2019 in Miami, Florida. We hope to see you there! You can find more about this event on The Sales Evangelist website.
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