Attending networking events is one of my favourite ways to get a pulse on what’s happening globally. It’s amazing how you can learn about changes in the market and new trends just from meeting new people and listening. Sure it’s great to meet someone who might be interested in your product or service, but going in only with the mindset to sell something will lead you nowhere except for a room full of people that now don’t like you. In today’s quick tip in the Selling in Asia Podcast, I share which guy you don’t want to be at networking events and what to do instead.
Listen! I learned many years ago about Sales Networking; It’s more important to be interested than to be interesting. Stop focusing on trying to sell and concentrate on being an active listener. By expressing genuine interest in the person in front of you, you’re making them feel valued, will build trust quickly, and naturally creates a genuine personal connection. As the conversation progresses, you might find that you harbour common goals, different ways in which you could help each other, or even help your business with a specific need.
So, how can you become an active listener? Here are our favorite techniques for conciously improving your listening techniques:
- When it’s your turn to respond, make sure you reply with something they’ve said. It’ll prove that you’re actually listening and engaged.
- Turn off your phone. Forget you even have a phone (unless it’s to take down someone’s details, obviously). Whilst technology has revolutionised communication; nobody wants to engage with a cellphone zombie; engage with the people in front of you.
Ask Questions! Asking broad questions is useful, but having a strategy is even better. If we consider building relationships is often a long-term process, you want to ensure you’re meeting the right people to avoid wasting your time on people insignificant to your business goals. So before attending an event, consider asking yourself the following questions:
- Whom are you trying to meet?
- What types of companies are you trying to connect with?
- Do you already know someone who works at one of your target companies?
- How can you strengthen existing professional friendships?
The most rudimentary mistake made by Sales Professionals is approaching an event with a mindset of being there to get, not to give. Of course, we all have a professional agenda; we network because we want to connect, get our foot in the door, or get close to an all-important decision-maker.
The problem with this approach is that it’s painfully obvious and quite frankly shows you’re just here for yourself. People will be less likely to engage with you and reluctant to trust you; after-all, business networking is a two-way street.
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