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The Art of Networking

August 03, 2016

An overview of Happy Hour with John Russo of Sandler Training

     Whether you’re in sales or not, if you play any role in the tradeshow world, chances are you’re going to find yourself in business settings that require you to network in some shape or form. From staffing a booth, to selling a booth, to building it, smart and efficient networking skills are a valuable tool. Unfortunately, we can’t ALL be connoisseurs of networking and sometimes we feel downright awkward and uncomfortable when we know we’ll have to network. These negative connotations can be a driving force to make us shy away from branching out to make these business connections. But guess what? It doesn’t always have to be an uncomfortable experience!
     At a recent event hosted by the Charleston Young Professionals, John Russo of Sandler Sales Training and Peak Performance Management of Charleston covered a few key ways that you can ease the perceived “agony” that is networking and become more confident. John Rosso is recognized nationally as a business-development expert, specializing in executive-sales consulting and sales-productivity training as well as the best-selling author of Prospect- The Sandler Way. Here were a few of his highlights.
     Behavior over Attitude: Despite your feelings on networking, the fact of the matter is, you’re going to have to change your behaviors before your attitude is going to change. The key thing to focus on is to be tied to the process, not the outcome. Make networking a part of your business plan! Only good things happen when you expand your network and you’re not going to feel the effects and benefits of that and have a positive attitude about it until you just go out there and do it.
     Be interested first and interesting second: If charming the pants off of someone and speaking to any random stranger walking down the street isn’t your thing—good news!! People love to talk about themselves. And if you can be a good listener and be interested in what your counterpart is saying, that’s half the battle. Besides, nobody likes a story stealer! By being interested rather than being the dominating interesting force in a conversation, you establish an environment of trust, comfort and connection. Not to mention, this is a great time for you to identify observable characteristics of your ideal customer and establish your market. Remember, likeability is a major influencer.
     Have your 30 Second Commercial Ready: Networking settings aren’t always ideal. They can be chaotic, fast paced, loud, or distracting. So how do you make sure that you effectively hook your audience, especially those connections that you are really looking to make and keep? You need to sell yourself! You should always have a quick little 30 second commercial ready about your company and/or the role that you play. Contributing factors to your commercial should be:

  1. Have a strong opening. Have a good business bonding question ready to get them interested in the conversation.
  2. Tell third party stories- Include an issue you or your company encountered, an example of what you did when faced with that issue, and the impact or outcome of your rockstar actions. Don’t just say “We are reliable, quality assured, and have a long history in the industry.”   That’s how you lose your audience.
     Set up a follow up if appropriate…and follow through with your follow up! Follow up can be anything from sending a handwritten note, connecting on LinkedIn, jointly work an account, or actively refer business. Of course each follow up is going to be different so make sure you are identifying it appropriately. 

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