Article written by Graham Fitzpatrick, Business Advisor, Western Sydney Business Centre.

When I first started selling advertising, I was invited me to attend a networking breakfast function. The main thing I remember about the morning was people swapping business cards. Being in my early 20’s and thinking I knew about sales; I did not see the benefit of it and never attended again. Back then I thought sales was a numbers game. I thought the more cold calls I did, the more sales pitches I delivered and the more proposals I send out in a week was the key to driving sales. How I wish I could go back and talk to my younger self about the benefits of networking.

Networking is such as essential part of the sales process. The key to sales success in today’s marketplace is through building relationships and this is what good networking does. It allows you to meet not just potential customers or clients. It also helps you build a fan base that acts as your own referral network.

To network effectively you will need to do a couple things. The first is nail your personal brand. For a time in some networking circles, I became known as the “Go to guy”. If you needed help with anything, chances are I had a contact to help you. Another great example of a personal brand is the Selfie Guy. There is a gentleman who attends networking events in North West Sydney that I have dubbed the “Selfie guy”. You have not really attended a networking meeting until you have had a selfie with him. So what can you be known for? Your thing could be a particular colour or accessory you always wear like a bow tie or even a hat.

The next thing you need to do, to get the most out of networking, is get people talking.

Here are 3 important questions to get them talking.

1. Where are you from?

2. What do you do?

3. How are things going?

This allows you to find out information about their business and what problems they may have that you can help with. It also shows you are interested in their business which will help you be remembered. 

Happy Networking!