Networking understandably has a mixed reputation in the professional world. You might hear the phrase and think of disingenuously working your contacts for favors. But when done correctly, it can lead to incredible opportunities for your sales career that benefit both yourself and the people that help you. Here are some tips to build a great professional sales network.
Identify your targets
You can’t just build any network–you need to build the right network. By now, you should know a lot about your sector, so to begin networking, identify the industry figures that would be most helpful to you and your sales career goals.
Figure out the ten most important power players you want to meet and then begin building a “business tree.” List everyone you currently know in the industry and begin drawing the connections from them to your top ten. In doing this, you may find that you’re only a few introductions away from connecting with someone that can juice your sales career.
Look out for “super-connectors”
Do you know a sales rep who just seems to know everybody? These sales “super connectors” are great starting points to building out your network. Seek them out in your business tree and begin with them. This speeds along the process of getting you into the rooms you want to be in and, ultimately, to the job you’ve been dreaming of.
The call’s coming from inside the house
Before venturing out into the world, make sure you’re taking advantage of every resource your current job has to offer. Not every company has a sales mentorship program, but if it does, enroll in it right away.
If not, reaching out to the top performers at your job is a great way to gather sage advice and begin building your network. Remember that they’re on your team, so they’ll be invested in your success right off the bat and will likely offer guidance any mentee can use to further their career.
Make connections on social media
Don’t just limit yourself to the people in your direct sphere though. Websites like LinkedIn and yours truly are great ways to connect with sales leaders and establish yourself in the world of sales.
Seek out some top influencers in your industry and don’t be afraid to send a friendly DM. You can also engage with their content, leave comments on their posts, and ask them questions. This is mutually beneficial as the sales person will benefit from the engagement and you will benefit in the form of building rapport.
Build your online brand
Now that you’re waded into sales influencer waters, it’s time to establish your own brand and increase your visibility among the group of sales leaders you want to connect with.
Making accounts on websites like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram are easy ways to put yourself out there and elevate your presence. With a little shrewd marketing, you can use these platforms to craft engaging posts, generate followers, and increase the odds a sought-after sales titan will take notice of you.
Attend industry events
Social media is a great tool, but nothing beats face-to-face interactions. Attending industry events is the best way to establish quality contacts that will come in handy when it comes to growing your sales prowess and advancing your career.
Seek out c-level events filled with highly reputable sales leaders, but don’t get discouraged if you run into ones that are invite only. If you do, it doesn’t hurt to return to your trusty business tree and ask contacts if they have a way to get in. If that’s a nonstarter, it might be time to set your sights on more entry-level events and work your way up from there.
Once you’re in, it’s time to channel your inner social butterfly. Put yourself out there and make time for everyone. Be humble, open about your goals, and ask curious, involved questions. You’ll be amazed by how much people will want to help you if you’ve got a positive attitude and show you care. Plus, many people at these events don’t excel in the “genuine and non-transactional” department, so just by listening and being polite you’ll already be ahead of the competition.
Once you’re in, let your social butterfly skills shine. Take a quick inventory of who’s who there and be discerning with who you approach. These events, even the c-suite ones, are chock full of empty-calorie braggarts, so steer clear of those and only initiate intros with salespeople you genuinely want to talk to.
Find ways to help others
Approaching your professional sales network with only yourself in mind is a big mistake and will turn off many potential salespeople. So, before initiating contact, think of ways you might be able to help them out.
This could be someone you know that they’d like to connect with. Maybe you have a lead you can forward to them. Whatever the case, demonstrating your interest in mutually helping each other out will motivate the sales professional to prioritize you and their relationship with you.
Mindset is everything
Look: networking as a topic can draw the ire of most sales professionals. But if you maintain a confident and curious demeanor, you can endear yourself to even the most jaded salesperson.
So we’ll do a quick reminder that will probably be obvious to most people. Remember the basics of meeting people. Smile warmly and maintain strong, but friendly eye contact. Try to form an actual relationship. Don’t be transactional, as every salesperson worth your time will be able to sense that immediately.
These simple steps lead to a world of difference in the quality of your sales network, which will lead to major dividends down the line.
Get out there and make connections
From building out more sales pipelines full of warm prospects to linking with sought after sales professionals eager to bestow their wisdom upon you, establishing a professional sales network is essential work for elevating your career and landing more deals.