A Networking U-Turn
Having been involved in sales for 15+ years (omg really? That long huh? Really?), I was struggling to understand the whole Networking thing, when introduced to it by my new boss last year. Old school sales means you attend a certain number of appointments, pitch to your targets and sell, sell, sell (well hopefully)! Whereas Networking, you go and make business friends! OK maybe some exaggerating and a bit of pigeon-holing, but you get the general idea.
So there is my new boss at The new job trying to persuade me that Networking is a viable way to get new business and I am trying to persuade her that the old way means faster, better results. Once I realised Networking doesn’t have to be an ‘instead of’ solution to sales, I was happy and even enthusiastic about being invited as a guest to a BNI meeting. Just that one meeting was enough to turn my thought processes on it’s head! No I am not being paid by BNI neither am I a member but to my mind they certainly have a winning formula in their meetings! I particularly enjoyed the structured environment and as they are weekly meetings, you end up with a group of ‘colleagues’ all of whom bounce off each other, support each other, and advocate each other. I came to a swift realisation that hey! This Networking thing is pretty cool, not only do you get to bounce ideas off people, you in effect have found yourself an unpaid sales force who are prepared to use their own good reputation to recommend your company’s services/products.
Since that first meeting I have quickly become extremely enthusiastic about Networking and am busy attending a wide variety of meetings, from the formal BNI type events, to a relaxed Curry club evening which is a more social event. My initial thoughts are that although the different types of events attract a wide variety of clientele, are of different formats and styles. The same success story is heard over and over again. I am still attending as many events as my personal diary and work load will allow and am still searching and analysing to find the events that work for me. My initial reluctance has done a complete U-Turn so I have gone from slight disdain to complete advocacy and am now assisting in running Oaktree Networking. The moral of the story: it’s like being a child again eating food you don’t want to, don’t turn your nose up until you’ve tried it!
Check out my other blogs for more Networking Gems
Since writing this blog at the end of 2010, I have progressed to taking on a local director role with BforB a referral network group. You really can’t get much further from my original stand point. Always good to have an open mind about things, that way who knows where life will take you. Wishing you productive Networking. – Jules Aug 2011