For anyone in sales, being savvy at networking isn’t just a good skill to have, it’s necessary for long-term success. Networking is an important part of building relationships with clients, vendors, and even your competitors. The reality is that people choose to refer business to and do business with those they already know and trust.
To build these enduring and hopefully profit-generating relationships that will help you in your career, you need to be able to present yourself as smart, professional, and sincere. These traits are what will give you the edge you need to stand above the countless others who are also vying to network to get ahead. Like all other aspects of business, networking has unspoken rules of play that are essential to follow if you expect any success. Let’s call it networking etiquette. Here are the rules you need to know:
Express Your Appreciation
If someone has taken the thought and time to refer you to one of their contacts, consider it one of the most sincere forms of flattery. Interestingly, many of us often forget to thank those who make the effort and take the time to refer.
If you want to continue to receive referrals, thank these individuals promptly and genuinely. Express how much you appreciate their efforts. While a hand-written thank you note is always appropriate, a phone call or even a quick email is much better than letting these generous actions go unacknowledged.
Keep Them in the Loop
After thanking a person who has given you a referral, find out if they want to be kept in the loop. Because there is a vested interest, they just might appreciate being copied on emails or receiving updates on how things are progressing. Give them the opportunity to tell you what level of involvement they want and then, most importantly follow-through with their requests.
Announce When You Win the Business
So you’ve thanked the person who gave you the referral and kept them in the loop through the sales process. What’s the next step? Don’t keep them hanging; notify them as soon as you win the business. It’s a perfect opportunity to once again express your appreciation.
Reciprocate If You Can
Networking is most certainly a two-way street. It’s great to receive referrals, but it can be just as rewarding to give them, as well. And, it’s not always all about making a referral to someone who needs a product or service immediately. Make connections and referrals to a wide spectrum of influencers and other great networkers, and your consideration and interest will be recognized and rewarded.