Be careful of the networking trap!
Networking is important but it is not selling!
Networking is a powerful tool – especially in a city such as London!
A long successful business career is built on many trusting relationships and many of these can start with networking. This could be joining Rotary, Golf Club or any place where people come together!
The more people you know the easier business will be for you!
Networking, properly done, however, is specifically not about selling it is about rapport building!
Selling is about identifying a buyer, presenting a compelling offer and then closing the sale – getting the order in the quickest time possible.
The difference between selling and networking is really the difference between selling and marketing.
Marketing is the process of brand awareness, development of a compelling message, and a clear offer that generates interest in the business, product or service. With an effective marketing program, which includes networking, presentations, referrals, blogs, social networking, paid advertising, web, SEO, etc… leads are generated (leads are people who have expressed an interest in the product or service) and then these leads should be sold.
Selling is the clear presentation of an offer and a request to do business (asking for the order). Smoozing and building rapport outside of delivering a clear pitch for business is not selling.
Order taking (waiting for someone to give us the business directly or indirectly) is also not selling.
In addition, none of the various marketing efforts listed above (included networking, presentations, referrals, blogs, social networking, paid advertising, SEO, etc) is selling – they are marketing! Marketing is important but it cannot replace selling (in most cases).
Here is the problem with many businesses – especially small businesses.
Many business people, including those with the title of salesperson are afraid to actually pitch for business and so stand around waiting for orders to fall into their laps. They keep busy networking and doing other forms of marketing hoping to generate enough awareness so that they don’t need to sell.
This approach keeps many businesses small at best and kills them in the worst case.
Now, if you have amazing products and great marketing – take Apple for example – then selling is not an issue as there are more than enough orders to keep everything rolling over. Most businesses are not this lucky!
If you want more business then you are going to have to learn how to sell or develop some amazing products or services that have the world beating a path to your door.
A good business plan and sales strategy addresses the sales process and defines how customers are going to be found and developed, in increasing amounts, over time.
If you do not actually know where your next customer is coming from but are hopeful that the next person you shake hands with at a networking event will be ready to give you an order or a referral then your business is in trouble and your business plan is not complete.
If you do not have a clear plan for getting new customers and growing your business then get some help!