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Are you making the number 1 mistake networking face to face and on LinkedIn?

Smiley sales man

If I had a pound, euro, dollar or yen for each person that has had an epiphany when I have explained this I could have retired.

We all go to networking events and onto LinkedIn looking to meet clients or partners, starting to build those long term relationships that are both profitable and critical to our business and personal success, but we are doing it in the hardest way possible.

The number one mistake we often make is trying to sell to the person in front of us. What do I mean by that? Well imagine you’re at a networking event or on LinkedIn – you try to sell to the person in front of you and by doing so you often sabotage your chances of success before you have even started!

By selling to that individual you are exposed to a number of relational risks:

1. They think you’re a pushy sales person, put the defensive barriers up and you will never engage them in the future.
2. Once the barriers are up any future opportunity will go elsewhere.
3. They might tell others of your pushy sales approach and hence your reputation is also being tarnished before you even meet the next person!

Can you imagine how you felt last time someone tried to sell something to you? Even with the best of intent it often gets a negative reaction.

Now imagine that everyone you meet knows hundreds of other people that they could introduce you to. Would that shift your focus to their network (as opposed to them) as I am pretty sure you would rather sell to a few as opposed to one?

How much better would your sales “chats” be if someone else had introduced or referred you onto someone they knew?

By selling to that persons’ network you are building a number of relational bonuses:

1. You differentiate yourself by not selling to them.
2. They think you’re a great person as you’re trying to help them, this brings the barriers down and you can always engage with them positively in the future.
3. Once the barriers are down any future opportunity will go to you (as long as you keep in touch).
4. They will tell others of your proactive and positive approach to help them and enhance your local reputation
5. They might even introduce you to someone that they know that they think you can help with your expertise, insight, service or products.

Imagine the email – “you must meet X, I met them at an event recently and they were telling me about Y and I instantly thought of you. You must meet up over a coffee and have a chat”. Wouldn’t that make your business development and sales easier?

The number one mistake when you network is to sell to the person facing you, as opposed to gaining trust and sponsored access to their networks – network (face to face or on LinkedIn) to build rapport, strengthen relationships and this will open doors and get significantly better results.

If you want more tips on networking on and offline you can sign up for tips here or to learn more about networking face to face or on LinkedIn then you can always come along on one of our courses.