We can probably all agree that networking is a critical part of conducting business, especially as a salesperson. One of the biggest challenges that I’ve noticed facing salespeople today is their approach to networking. A common misstep that I observe often is that salespeople primarily network when they need something, as opposed to doing so when they don’t have a current need.
Personally, I tend to focus on quality over quantity. My approach involves a list of ten people that I make sure to touch base with monthly. I even go out of my way to put reminders on my calendar to make sure I grab a lunch with them at least once a quarter.
These ten individuals are the people that I am always looking out for whenever I speak to a prospect or customer.  I’m constantly trying to find a way to help them and it’s a very reciprocal relationship because they’re looking out for me too.  In addition, if they want an introduction, they’re not shy about asking me and if I need one, I have no problems asking them.
They also are people that I completely trust, not only as a human being but also as a business person.  I need to know that when I refer them to somebody, it’s going to make me look good because they did such exceptional work.
 At least once a month I receive an email from someone that I don’t know well asking me to connect them to somebody in my network.  If I can help them with their request, I absolutely will. However, it’s challenging for me to stick my neck out and vouch for somebody that I don’t know very well.
If these individuals took the time to network when they weren’t in need, they would probably have an easier time making connections. Additionally, people like myself would feel much more comfortable vouching for them as we’d have a better grasp of who they are and what they do.
Another common trend that I notice among salespeople is how many mention how they’re a good networker due to their regular presence at a variety of networking events. At these events they shake hands and hand out their business cards.  However, you’ll be able to get much more out of getting to know ten people really well, as opposed to talking to 1,000 people for five minutes each.
People really value depth and common understanding when it comes to business relationships. When one’s reputation is on the line, very few people want to take a risk on someone they met for a moment at an event whom they barely know.
The most important takeaway here is to really evaluate how you approach networking. Explore the method that I utilize, in which you find ten people that you believe are important to network with and really apply your focus there. Go out of your way to help them, and schedule times to meet with them to deepen your relationship. I can almost guarantee that quality over quantity will get you much further when it comes to networking.
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