Jumpstart Your Next Event
Networking doesn’t come easy to everyone – not even salespeople. Many sales pros get nervous and tongue-tied when entering a room full of strangers with a pocket full of business cards and an end-of-month sales quota. It isn’t a question of being shy or an introvert: some people just aren’t good at networking events, no matter how good they are 1:1 or on a stage.
a version of this article first appeared on LinkedIn
3 Networking Hacks for Sales Pros
1. Practice 3 opening lines
Most people will tell you to prepare a conversation starter: they’re right, you can conquer your jitters by having an opening line practiced and perfected. But have you ever been to a networking event and overheard someone use the exact same opening line they used with you 3 minutes ago? Conversation starters are like elevator pitches: practice makes perfect.
Opening lines for your next networking event include (feel free to customize!):
• How about those Lakers? (or your favorite local team): sure it’s a cliche: because it works! Sports events and teams are consolidators: everyone either loves them or hates them. And even if they hate sports, your next attempt can be: What are your hobbies?
• I saw on LinkedIn that you… : If you have done your homework like any good sales pro, you have a pretty good idea who is attending the network event, and who you should target. Look your targets up on LinkedIn (that’s what it’s here for!) and find something you have in common, an impressive accomplishment or some other factoid to talk about.
tip: many sales pros have backup notes on their phone or even a piece of paper so they don’t get flustered and forget their research during the networking event.
• Is this your 1st time here? Sure, it’s a bit dorky: but everyone is there for the same reason – to make new contacts – and if you haven’t seen them at the event before, or it’s your 1st time, it opens the door to discuss whether it’s a good event or not.
2. Bring a wingman
Remember Tom Cruise in Top Gun? You know Tom’s going to get the girl – but even Tom Cruise went to the bar with his wingman, Cougar. Pairing up with a buddy who is supportive, not competitive, can help give you the confidence to walk up to a group of strangers and introduce yourself.
tip: don’t hide in the corner with your wingman, or the networking event will be a waste of both your time.
3. Skip the business card: pass over your phone
This is tip is borrowed from the singles bar scene: no one hands over their business card, they just ask for their number!
• bring up a blank contact screen on your phone
• ask your new contact to enter their name and phone number
• text them immediately
Voila! You’ve exchanged contact info, and no phone numbers to enter when you get home that night.
tip: don’t use the phone hack on just any new contact: make it meaningful!
The next time there’s a networking event or meetup on your calendar don’t sweat it: act like the sales pro you are and prepare!
about Anthony Caliendo:
I’m an entrepreneur and sales professional with over 20 years of successful sales and sales management experience. My expertise in sales, marketing and business development spans from small business to international companies.
I’m the best-selling author of The Sales Assassin: Master Your Black Belt in Sales, winner of the 2015 USA Book News business book award for entrepreneurs and small business.
I provide personal sales coaching; and consult, speak and train about growing and motivating your sales team to businesses, corporations and conferences across the nation, as well as a guest contributor and sales expert for TV and radio, and professional organizations.
The Sales Assassin: Master Your Black Belt in Sales.