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I am in Sales, but I’m not on LinkedIn! Should I be worried about Networking?


Networking in Sales

In the competitive world of sales, networking is not just an ancillary activity; it is a fundamental aspect of success. The power of networking lies in its ability to create meaningful connections, foster professional growth, and open doors to new opportunities – as well as obtain introductions to target prospects.


In our view it’s essential to not only have an up-to-date profile on – for example – LinkedIn, but also to have a minimum of 500+ authentic connections.  Any sales rep that doesn’t have a minimum of 500 connections would not get recommended by us to get an interview. It’s as simple as that. 


Oh, and worse still, we’ve come across sales people looking for a new job that aren’t even on LinkedIn! Good luck to them…


As experienced sales leaders and managers, we have witnessed first-hand how effective networking can transform careers and businesses. In this blog, we delve into the importance of networking in sales, drawing on insights from seasoned sales professionals in many different industries, and supplementing them with our own experiences and strategies.


Building Meaningful Connections

Networking is about more than just collecting business cards or adding connections on LinkedIn. It’s about building meaningful relationships with individuals who can provide valuable insights, support, introductions and opportunities. People that you’ve actually met with, be that in-person or virtually! 


Too often we receive these random “LinkedIn invites to connect” from people in far-away places. Ignore them we would say, as they can be click-bait and – simply put – they are not authentic or genuine.


Effective networking requires a genuine interest in others. When you engage with potential clients, colleagues, or mentors, focus on understanding their needs, challenges, and goals. Ask open-ended questions and listen actively. This approach not only helps you build rapport but also positions you as someone who is interested in more than just making a sale.


Leveraging Professional Networks

Professional networks, such as LinkedIn, industry associations, and conferences, are invaluable resources for sales professionals. These platforms provide opportunities to connect with industry leaders, stay updated on the latest trends, and share your own expertise. We cannot emphasise the power of LinkedIn in any sales career, using it to follow key industry figures, engage with relevant content, and to expand your professional network by asking for introductions.


To maximise the benefits of professional networks, be proactive in your engagement. Regularly update your profile, share insightful articles, and participate in discussions. Attend industry events, both virtual and in-person, to meet new contacts and strengthen existing relationships. By positioning yourself as a knowledgeable and active participant in your field, you enhance your visibility and credibility.


Mentorship and Learning

One of the most significant benefits of networking is the opportunity to learn from others. Mentorship, in particular, can provide invaluable guidance and support throughout your career.


Over the years we have mentored and coached numerous senior executives across many different countries, sharing our expertise and helping them navigate complex challenges.


Seek out mentors who have experience and insights relevant to your career goals. These relationships can be formal or informal, but the key is to approach them with a willingness to learn and a commitment to mutual respect. Similarly, be open to mentoring others. Sharing your knowledge and experiences can be incredibly rewarding and can help you build a strong reputation as a leader in your field. Act as if you are a “Talent Broker” – connecting people with businesses looking for certain skillsets and experience.  


Fresh Perspective Sales are always on the lookout for great sales talent that our customers would want to connect with – so remember that your LinkedIn profile is also your CV!


Expanding Your Influence

Networking is not just about gaining; it’s also about giving. By sharing your knowledge, supporting your peers, and contributing to your professional community, you expand your influence and create a positive impact.


Proactively introduce your contacts to people they want – or should – connect with.


A great example here is how Wayne Norrie, a seasoned Director and successful entrepreneur, has introduced us to so many business owners, most of which at least have an interaction with you to see how we can help them become more successful. A BIG shoutout and thank you to Wayne!


To expand your influence, look for opportunities to contribute to industry discussions, whether through speaking engagements, writing articles, or participating in panel discussions. Volunteer for leadership roles within professional associations or organise networking events. By positioning yourself as a thought leader and a valuable resource, you increase your visibility and attract new opportunities.


Building a Support System

Sales can be a demanding and often solitary profession. Networking provides a support system of peers, mentors, and colleagues who can offer advice, encouragement, camaraderie, and the all-so-important introductions so prospects.

In our experience, our network of fellow sales professionals has been a source of support and inspiration throughout our careers – as well as when you’re looking for new business opportunities.


Cultivate relationships with individuals who understand the unique challenges of sales. Share your successes and setbacks, seek advice, and offer your support in return. A strong support system can help you stay motivated, navigate difficult situations, and celebrate your achievements.


Strategic Networking

Effective networking requires a strategic approach. Identify the key individuals and organisations that can support your career – or business – goals and focus your efforts on building relationships with them. Leverage these relationships to further expand your network.


So that means whenever you meet a new person, send them a connection request on LinkedIn.  NOTE: not just a lazy “click the connect button”, but write a brief note as to why you want to connect, and remind them how you met in the first place.  


Believe it or not, this comes in handy in a few years’ time when you sit on an airplane and you cannot remember someone’s name. You know you are connected to them and you want to have a quick conversation with them, but what is their name again...


Find the person on LinkedIn (by searching 1st Connections at XYZ company, because that’s all you can remember...) and when you walk off the plane, you can greet them by their first name!  (This is a true story that happened to the author a few times…. must be age-related 😊)


Start by mapping out your existing network and identifying any gaps. Look for opportunities to connect with individuals who have the knowledge, influence, or connections you need. Be intentional in your interactions, and follow up regularly to maintain and strengthen these relationships.


Utilising Networking for Business Development

Networking is a powerful tool for business development. Building relationships with potential clients, partners, and industry influencers can lead to new business opportunities, introductions and collaborations.


To use networking for business development, be proactive in identifying potential opportunities. Attend industry events, join relevant associations, and engage with online communities. When you meet new contacts, focus on building a relationship first rather than immediately pitching your product or service. Understand their needs and challenges, and look for ways to provide value before seeking to do business.


Ask for e-introductions – whereby you write the email invite that your connection can use to email to your target prospect.  People are busy, and you cannot expect them to represent you or your value proposition to prospective clients.  That is your job, so make it easy from them to introduce you.


The Role of Technology in Networking

In today’s digital age, technology plays a crucial role in networking. Platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, and industry-specific forums allow you to connect with professionals around the world. Use LinkedIn to stay informed, engage with industry content, and connect with key or prospective contacts.


Embrace digital networking by actively participating in online discussions, sharing relevant content, and connecting with industry influencers. Use social media to showcase your expertise, share your achievements, and engage with your network. Digital tools can also help you manage your contacts, schedule follow-ups, and track your networking activities.


Overcoming Networking Challenges

Networking can be intimidating, especially for those who are new to the field or naturally introverted. However, the benefits far outweigh the challenges. Persistence and a genuine interest in others can help overcome initial discomfort.


To overcome networking challenges, start small. Attend local events, join online forums, and connect with colleagues within your organisation. Join – for example – Toastmasters not only for becoming more comfortable with speaking in public or to strangers, but also to expand your network.


Engage in conversations, ask questions, and listen actively. Remember that networking is about building relationships, not just making contacts.


Measuring Networking Success

Like any other aspect of sales, it’s important to measure the success of your networking efforts. Track your interactions, follow-ups, and outcomes to understand what’s working and where you can improve. Reflect on a regular basis on your networking activities and adjust your strategies as needed.


Use a CRM tool, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator, or a simple spreadsheet to track your networking activities. Record key details about your contacts, follow-up dates, and any outcomes from your interactions. Regularly review your progress and adjust your approach based on your findings.


Long-term Benefits of Networking

The benefits of networking extend beyond immediate business opportunities. Long-term relationships can lead to career advancements, partnerships, and personal growth.

Again, treat your LinkedIn profile as your CV, so keep it up-to-date, and refrain from just mentioning your responsibilities. Include also your achievements as prospective employers are far more interested in what you’ve actually achieved, as opposed to what your job description mentions,.


Invest in your network for the long term. Maintain regular contact with your connections, offer help and support, and continue to build new relationships. The effort you put into networking will pay off in the form of a strong, supportive network that can help you achieve your goals.


Conclusion

The power of networking in sales cannot be overstated. Building meaningful connections, leveraging professional networks, and expanding your influence are essential for success. Networking is about more than just making contacts; it’s about building relationships that provide mutual value and support.


By taking a strategic approach to networking, embracing digital tools, and focusing on giving as much as you receive, you can create a powerful network that supports your professional growth and business success. Remember, networking is a continuous process that requires effort, persistence, and a genuine interest in others.


Invest in your network, and it will become one of your most valuable assets in your sales career.



📞 Want to know more?


Contact us for an obligation-free chat about how we can help you and your organisation get more effective at growing your business. 

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