When it comes to networking, most business people miss opportunities because they lack the understanding of the real value in the connections you make with everyone you meet.
It may not be the person you are talking to at an event who you think you need to connect with. Often times, it’s who that person knows that you do need a connection to.
The primary difference between selling and networking is depth. Many business people miss this. Selling is persuading an individual to purchase your goods or services. Networking is connecting yourself into their contacts to sell your goods or services on a much larger scale. Look at networking this way.
There was a TV show on in recent years about the six degrees of separation from any person on Earth. In other words, anyone is just six people away from meeting anyone on the planet. Think about it this way. Everyone on average since high school knows about 250 people. But those 250 people know 250 people. So when you meet a new person, essentially, you have the potential of connecting to quite literally 62,500 people. I don’t mean to make you nervous, but next time you meet a new person, “don’t screw up!”
It only gets better from here because of exponential growth. Harness the power of networking. As you build your connections networking, keep in mind it is not about this particular person as much as the 250 people this person has a connection to. Instead of spending time cold calling or buying leads that hang up on you, learn the art of networking and cultivate for future business. Remember, networking is more about farming than hunting. Take the time to help your connections get what they want and in turn they will feel compelled to help you get what you want.
The best story I have ever heard about connecting came from a book I read. Paraphrasing, there was a young salesman working for a department store in the earlier part of the 20th century. He was smart but not very appealing or attractive, so sales came really tough to the young man. The older salesmen ignored him and bullied him and wished he were not a part of their team. One rainy day, an elderly woman came into the store. She was not very well dressed, wet from the rain and certainly did not appear to be a customer. The seasoned salesmen never made a move towards her. Our young unsuccessful salesmen who was standing alone went over to help her. She quickly explained she just came in to get out of the rain and did not intend to make a purchase of anything. The young salesman understood but began a conversation with her anyway. When the rain let up, she stated he needed to be on her way and asked for his business card, which he obliged. Two weeks later the young man was called into the general manager’s office for what he assumed was to be fired for lack of production. Instead, he was told of a letter he received from the CEO of the company requesting a transfer of the young salesman to his personal staff. When the young man asked why, he was told that the elderly lady he had been so nice to on that rainy day was the aunt of the CEO of the company. You just never know who people know.
I believe that Zig Ziglar said it best—“You can have anything you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want in life”.
Tim Wilhoit is a BNI Director Consultant for Nashville TN and Middle TN areas. Tim is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life www.yourfriend4life.com 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 and author and team leader with over 28 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.
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