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How do I sell in a business or social networking environment?

Wednesday, 20 June 2012 | By Simon Harris

I’m gearing myself up to attend a few business networking events in order to drum up some sales.


Do you have any tips on how to approach people in an informal networking environment and get them interested in my product?


Okay, great question. Unfortunately, the way this is worded straightaway points to you trying to get as much out of the networking as possible rather than the other way around. So what do I mean by this? Let me explain.


Networking, whether it be done face-to-face or online (social networking), has some basic rules. The golden rule is do not sell anything to anyone.


People avoid those people who are out there to get sales from these events – it’s called "commission breath".


We can see you coming and will try to get out of the conversation as quick as possible without being rude.


So, from your perspective, you had lots of brief chats where you got your point across lots of times. Then you wonder why no one was interested in your post event follow-up.


Instead, go there to find out as much as you can about others and their businesses and to ask lots of engaging questions.


Before long you will have people cock their head to the side, look down at your name label and ask – so [name] what is it you do? That's when you might drop in your 30 second "elevator pitch" and watch their reaction.


What you are trying to do here is show your interest and, by doing so, you yourself become interesting.


So, here’s what you might want to consider when at your next networking function.

  1. Develop your "elevator pitch", something that you can deliver inside 30 seconds that states effectively what you do and how you add value to your clients. Google this term and you will find a plethora of examples for your industry.

  2. Read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. This is a masterpiece in building relationships and a timeless book on advice down this line.

  3. I have a basic rule that I use and it is this: When you have finished talking with a person, you must have asked enough questions of them and their business to be able to send them three books about their business or their interests or things you have found out about them. This means you will have to ask a bunch of interesting questions in order to build this list.

  4. Go there to have fun and do not go there to sell anything.

  5. The second book for you is anything written by Robyn Henderson on networking. She has this subject covered.

  6. Third book for you, well that would mean we would have to meet so I could ask you a bunch of questions!

Good luck out there!