Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Improve Your Networking Skills

adapted from a Direct Sales Education Foundation article

Successful networking is a necessary part of growing a direct sales business and taking it to the next level.  It involves a certain amount of social grace and the ability to engage people in conversation and make them feel comfortable.  A few lucky people seem to be born with these skills, but anyone can master them with dedication and persistence.

Here are some specific ideas to help you improve your networking skills:

  • Focus on building relationships.  This will allow for long-term planning.  Even if this contact can't help you in your endeavor right now, the opportunity may arise in the future for this person to offer something of value to your business.  Give something of yourself when establishing professional relationships.  For example, a dance studio owner / dance teacher looking to expand her clientele by offering classes for children under 5 years old holds an open house for prospective students and their parents.  When speaking with some of the parents individually, she asks each why they would like to start the child in a dance class and offers a free demo class, as well as a discounted private lesson for those interested in joining her studio.  The parents recognize that the teacher is giving her time and expertise so that they may have a risk-free trial before committing to a year of classes.  This also allows the teacher to get to know her future students and show the parents that she truly cares about their early dance education.  In what way can you be of service to a prospective customer or new downline member?

  • Keep the initial conversation social and friendly.   An initial introduction is not the time to offer unsolicited advice on the topic at hand.  Make sure the conversation centers around common interests.  The dance teacher shares her own stories about how she got started at a young age, which helps prospects relate to her on a more personal level.  This is more effective than preaching her philosophy on why children should start their dance classes as soon as possible.  A light-hearted conversational tone is best in networking situations.  Telling a new acquaintance about why you love Vessel will be more powerful than telling her why she or he should. 

  • Don't make people uncomfortable by digging too deep.  Although you do want to build a relationship and find out a bit more about the person, be careful not to pry into their personal lives at an inappropriate level.  One mother of twins attending a demo gymnastics class with her children finds herself being asked by total strangers if she used fertility treatments to conceive.  A seemingly innocent question made in social conversation is actually quite personal.  Don't make this mistake.  Let the other person guide you in how much they are willing to share, but err on the side of caution when asking personal questions.  Act interested, but don't grill them!

Just like any skill, networking take practice.  The more you do it, the better you become and the more relaxed and open you appear to the new people you meet.  You won't necessarily do it perfectly, but you will become much better at turning strangers into friends and becoming a networking success!

To Your Success!


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