Salespeople network while eating food

Sales Networking Groups: Boost Your Career, Get Referrals & Close Deals

By Erin Coursey, iHire, LLC

Looking for new ways to get a promotion, find a new job, or make connections for your current employer? Try a networking group for sales professionals! These organizations are designed to support salespeople with everything from learning opportunities to referrals, making them a great tool to move your career to the next level. Use these sales networking tips and strategies to ensure you get the most out of your involvement.

 

Tip 1. Do Your Research

The quality and usefulness of leads you uncover at sales networking events depend heavily on the hosting group. Two particularly essential characteristics to consider when choosing your group are group scope and goals.

Scope: Sales networking groups can be local or international. International groups tend to be more established, with steady attendance numbers and a regular schedule within each regional chapter. Local groups may be more transient, but the attendees are closer to home and may be more likely to remember you later.

Goals: The organization’s founding mission will strongly influence your results. Choose the group that best fits your needs, whether you want to generate business referrals or get tips to boost your career from more experienced sales experts.

The research isn’t over once you’ve chosen which group to attend. Dig deeper into the group’s mission, rules, and expectations to ensure you’re ready to make a good impression. What is the dress code? Are new members given the opportunity to introduce themselves with a presentation? You might even consider speaking with someone who has attended a previous event run by this group to get the inside scoop about how to find the most effective people to talk to.

 

Tip 2. Plan

Notebook page with "Action Plan" header

Preparation is key! Make sure you have a strategy before you go so you aren’t overwhelmed or lose time trying to get your bearings. Create a general estimate of how many people you want to interact with and what angle you’ll take when explaining your product. This will help you maneuver the room quickly and easily.

There are two things you need to make sure you have before you go:

Elevator speech: Plan (and practice) your self-introduction before you go to avoid an awkward silence. Consider having several versions based on your specific goals (a new job vs. sales leads, for example).

Business cards: You’ll want plenty of these to hand out so your great business leads don’t disappear when you walk out the door. Give one to everyone you meet—anyone could be a future asset.

 

Tip 3. Work the Room

The whole purpose of joining a sales networking group is to make new connections in your field, so step out of your comfort zone and introduce yourself to someone you don’t know. If you’re unsure where to start, here are two approaches to striking up a productive conversation.

Focus on Values: Leverage company or personal qualities to start the conversation with an emotional connection. This approach is well-exemplified by WhyWhisper’s founder Alexandra Ostrow, who prefers smaller settings that encourage one-on-one interaction and more genuine relationships.

 

“Enthusiasm in connections is what really stands out. Take the time to know who everyone is and put people in touch with one another.”

 

Focus on Product: Promote your business to encourage more sales in areas of need. Avoid people selling similar products; they are competitors with no inclination to buy your product. Instead, focus on a complimentary market, aiming for sales pros whose services might support or integrate well with your own.

 

“Sometimes it’s helpful to ask, ‘how can I be helpful?' There’s that saying, ‘help me help you.’” -Oberti Noguera

 

Tip 4. Follow Up

Note to follow up written on calendarJust showing up at sales networking events isn’t enough. It’s important to keep in touch with the contacts you make and give referrals in the future. Connecting with people outside of the organized events will ensure you are at the front of their minds when possible job or sales opportunities arise. Additionally, some networking groups will supply business referrals for each member based on how often they refer other members.

Go through the business cards you received one or two days after the event. Call or email each lead you plan to pursue. You could send them an article you think they might find interesting, tell a story related to something you discussed previously, or even just thank them for their time during the networking event.

 

Networking groups for sales professionals are effective tools for meeting others in the industry and generating business referrals. If you approach these events with a productive mindset and follow the networking tips outlined above, you can cultivate new connections (and sales!) you otherwise would have missed.


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