Networking has always been one of the most powerful tools a salesperson has at their disposal.
Networking has always been one of the most powerful tools a salesperson has at their disposal. Meeting and developing relationships with people who can help you advance your career goals should be a basic part of your career development. Whether the person is a potential client, mentor, partner, or source of information, you want to build relationships with people who have something to offer. In turn, you must be able to offer something as well. Self promotion is all about telling people what you do, and why they should care. It’s not about bragging, or stroking your own ego. You have to have the skills and knowledge to back up your claims, or your network will quickly fall apart. Here are some tips to help you successfully promote yourself to improve your network.
Keep your personal and professional social media pages separate. Your professional network doesn’t want to see the adorable thing your cat did yesterday. They want to hear about your professional endeavors, and how they’re making you a better networking partner. Commenting on, or even writing, articles or blogs about issues and trends related to your industry is a great way to build credibility. When people see that you’re knowledgeable about, and actively discussing things their interested in, they’ll see you as a more valuable networking partner.
For in-person networking, you should be able to briefly describe your business, and your role within that business. A generic “I’m in sales” offers nothing of value to the person you’re meeting, and probably vastly understates your actual role. You don’t need to prepare a speech, but a one-minute description of the purpose and structure of your business, along with what you do to support those things, should suffice.
When the person you’re meeting speaks, you should actually be listening. Ask appropriate questions and make mental notes of the answers. After the meeting, try to find time to make actual notes. If you have reason to call on this person later, they’ll be all the more impressed if you remember some of the small details from your brief conversation.
Don’t go to professional networking functions to try and fish for prospects. If you work in programming and attend a networking event for rocket scientists, it’s not going to take long for you to stand out-and not in a good way. Stick to areas that truly interest you professionally. Stay up to date on emerging trends and issues facing your industry. Being able to deliver yesterday’s news isn’t a terribly marketable talent. Most people are seeking networking partners who are up on current events in their field.
At some point, you’ll find yourself talking to someone whose interests are completely different from yours. In a networking setting, this is a waste of time for both of you. If you don’t share any related interests, you probably don’t have much to offer as networking partners. It’s OK to thank them for their time and continue meeting other people. Feigning interest just to end up with a useless networking partner won’t do either of you any good. It’s not about who can network the most, it’s about who can network the best.
Above all, networking is about relationships. Those relationships have to extend beyond the first meeting, or they don’t benefit anyone. To be effective, self promotion can’t be all about the self. It also has to be about helping your networking partners. You stated your value to them and, someday, you may be asked to follow through on it. Once you’ve done that, you’ll have a networking partner who knows your value, and will tell others about it. Self promotion works even better when others are doing it for you.
Rhys is a tenacious, top performing Senior Sales Recruiter with 11+ years of focused experience in the Digital Media, Mobile, Software, Technology and B2B verticals. He has a successful track record of headhunting top performing sales candidates for some of the most exciting brands in North America. He is a Certified Recruitment Specialist (CRS) and has expert experience in prospecting new business, client retention/renewals and managing top performing sales and recruitment teams. Rhys enjoys spending quality time with his wife, son, and two daughters, BBQing on a hot summer day, tropical vacations and cottaging.