Sales Masters Guild Mentor, Toby Acton, asks “Why do we go networking?”.
What is our purpose and our aim when we attend a networking event?
Is it to meet up with people that we know and catch up with them and find out what has been happening in their lives and their businesses? Of course, it is good for there to be a social element to networking – humans are social animals – but this should not be the primary purpose.
Is it to enjoy a good hearty breakfast or a sumptuous lunch? Or maybe a delicious curry in the evening (as it is with one monthly group that I go to)? Again, the gustatory attraction to us is important – as evidenced by my often-expanding waistline when I have been networking a lot! But there is more to networking than a good meal.
Is it to sell our product or service to the people in the room? Perhaps, yes, but the old adage of “selling throughthe room rather than selling tothe room” holds as true as ever.
Building my network
And with that we move a bit closer to what for me is the primary purpose of networking for me. I go out networking to make new friends!
When networking, I am always on the lookout for new contacts and to try to understand what people offer to the marketplace, the value that they bring, and also to help them understand my value proposition.
I love connecting people together. When I meet someone new, I am always thinking “How can I help this person? Who can I connect them with that can be useful to them, or vice versa?” Always at the forefront of my mind is to be looking for people that can work together, in particular people that can help my own clients e.g. as a strategic partner, or a collaborator, or as a potential client, or someone that they outsource too.
Yes, of course, I am also looking for people that I can serve directly myself through my training or mentoring, but my primary focus is on how I can serve them indirectly through my network of contacts. I find that the more I refer people and connect people together, the more referrals that I get from people within my network.
As has been said by many business experts and commentators “Your network is your net worth” – by building my network, I build my value to my clients and to the marketplace. By making new friends and contacts each time I go out networking, I can draw on a wider resource base and gain greater leverage.
So, I am passionate about building up my network of contacts and seeking to have contacts in all sorts of different sectors, professions and specialisms.
I am also passionate about helping others to go out networking with intent and with a purpose to effectively and efficiently grow their database of contacts.
Training to network effectively and efficiently
As I set out in a previous blog, I run one-day Pro Networker Training workshops to help people get value from their networking activities. These days have a number of purposes, including showing people how to build their contacts by getting their value proposition across in a way that really resonates with their audience. A clear, concise pitch to the room will go a long way towards attracting people to you as a “person of interest” that they would like to get to know better and explore potential areas of common ground with.
By running your networking activities in a structured and strategised way, with clear desired outcomes and goals, and appropriate systemised follow-up processes you are far more likely to build your network faster and in such a way that it can enhance your business activities in a far greater way.
All kinds of business people from just about every sector find great value from my Pro Networker Trainings. The highly interactive workshops appeal to people at various different stages of their networking journey and in different types of roles. For example:
- those who are just starting to network for the first time
- those who have some experience of networking but are struggling to get value from it
- those who lack confidence when networking
- experienced networkers who want to refresh their skills
- employees who are tasked with business development or sales and can see it as a route to market
For those who are just starting out in networking, I provide a very simple structure and an easy-to-follow plan for networking. In the interactive workshop we work together to formulate your initial introduction when you meet people and what to say when they ask you what you do. We will construct a structured and memorable 60 second pitch – one that is easy to remember, both for yourself when you are presenting it and for your audience so that you really resonate with them.
For those who are struggling to make their networking pay from itself and bring a return on their investment of time and money, I show the value of having a structured approach and the importance of going networking with intent. We will look closely together at what you want to gain from networking and put together a program of skills and a plan to make sure that you obtain it,
Those who lack networking confidence will benefit massively from the day. A lack of confidence normally stems from lack of competence, i.e. not knowing the right way to do things. So by learning and practicing the skills for effective networking, by having a clear value proposition and a concise, structure pitch and a structured strategy and a simple plan, levels of competence rise and that leads to a massive boost in confidence. The same goes for those who consider themselves to be shy or introverted – knowing what to say and how to say it goes a long way to helping them be far more confident.
People who have been on the networking scene for many years may find that their skills and style have become somewhat “stale” and they may have fallen into bad habits when out networking. They may not be networking with purpose and intent and may be just “going through the motions”. A refresher course will redefine and recalibrate their activities and learn new skills, or often simply remind them of the effective skills and good habits that they have stopped putting into practice.
And it is not just business owners who get great value from the Pro Networker training. Often those who are employed in roles such as business development or in sales roles come along to the workshop. They see the value in networking as part of their role to develop new business and obtain new leads and they recognise the need to do it correctly, effectively and efficiently. Indeed, they often see this far more readily than the actual business owners who are out there networking as they are obliged to justify the investment of time and finances in attending networking meetings, so they must show that it is providing a return.
Whatever, your reason for seeking training on networking skills, I ensure that you go away from the day knowing the reasons why you are going networking and having a clear plan and strategy for your activities, backed up with the skills to achieve your objectives.
You can find out more about Toby and book onto any of his Pro-Networker Training from his booking page or his Sales Masters Guild Mentor page.
Toby Acton is a Sales Masters Guild Personal Business Mentor.
For more than two decades, Toby has been running his own businesses, with interests in a variety of diverse sectors including IT, market research and property. He has also mentored and trained many hundreds of people on how to build their networking marketing businesses and to develop their personal brand.