The Art of Networking

By Prinesh Pillay

In our world of traffic jams and long boring meetings, we as humans strive for efficiency and truth be told, we just want to have time to ourselves. Sure, you are the employee/employer of the year and your commitment to the company is relentless, but your time is your time and you deserve it. Right?

In our endeavours to free up our time, we tend to blindside a number of “non-core” activities. It is unfortunate that one activity that often gets cast aside and labelled as ‘non-core’ is networking!

How has networking become “non-core” in most businesses?

Let’s be honest, how often is your calendar marked off for planned networking? And by planned the following has to occur (and not limited to):

  1. Attend an event
  1. Researched the event and the type of companies you wish to touch. (By contacting the organisers you are able to get a list of the attendees; if you ask nicely.
  1. You have made note of the person you would like to meet and strategies around how you could best make this happen. (Research the company, do they really use/need your service, how can you differentiate your service/product)
  1. You have spent a decent amount of resources to attend this event (time and money) and how do you plan on getting a return on this investment? Once you have met a number of potential customers, how will you be able to cover the cost of you attending the event? Turn the attendance into a profit.
  1. Perfect your pitch, so that while your target elegantly snacks on a cheese and tomato sandwich, you don’t send them into a form of standing coma (eyes open but brain dead) with automated responses and nods saying “yes, yes… makes sense”

Chances are, the common essence of everyone in the room is the need to network. We want to gain something – anything – before we leave, so we know the time taken and effort was not a wasted opportunity.

Here are some tips when attending a networking event:

  1. Go to a networking meeting with the Intention to BUY and NOT SELL. Reciprocal business is almost guaranteed if you buy something from a supplier. The idea is that you buy a service/product that will save you money and you can sell your service/product to the very same company. It works; tried and tested a few times.
  1. Pre-plan your event attendance and do the necessary homework that would render you a good ROI.
  1. Get to know the hosts, their objectives and assist them. This would open a number of doors for you in time.

Networking is extremely vital; it feeds directly into your sales pipeline. Do your business (and yourself) a favour and convert it from a non-core to a core competent area in your business.