Why You Should Invest In Business Networking

Most of us have had to engage in business networking at some point in our careers and will probably need to do so again. Perhaps you attend an early morning breakfast networking, are a delegate at an industry conference or you simply network with your colleagues and co-workers. Whatever type of networking you do, it’s an essential professional and personal skill for your career and business development.

While a few people enjoy networking, you’re not alone if the thought of it makes you feel really uncomfortable. It’s not easy to walk into a room full of strangers, strike up a conversation and turn that conversation into a long-term relationship. Even the guy who bounds in full of confidence is likely feeling a little hot under the collar.

Fortunately we have some really practical business networking courses which are designed to help you prepare properly and perfect your networking skills in a safe environment. We also have some great content on our blog about effective communication skills, all of which will make you a better networker.

Why should you invest in networking?

So, we have you covered when you’re in a networking situation, but the question we hear lots is ‘why should I invest in networking?’ Networking does cost money and time, so it’s easy to see why you may question the usefulness of networking and whether or not it’s a worthy business investment. There are so many great reasons to invest in networking and we’ve listed three below:

1 – Make Connections

Richard Branson said that, ‘Succeeding in business is about making connections’. Branson is talking here about connections between people, but also connections between ideas and inspiration. There’s no better way to connect with great like-minded people and generate new ideas than networking. You’re able to meet regularly with the shared goal of building relationships and helping each other grow, which pays huge dividends in the long term.

2 – Become a Better Listener

Of course it’s not just about making connections, it’s also what you do with those connections that matters. As an effective networker you should know how to ask great questions and listen actively so that you really hear what the person is saying and where they’re coming from. In doing so, you can spot opportunities and get really valuable feedback on your business. Effective questioning and listening is an incredibly valuable sales skill and something we also cover in our Principles of effective selling course.

3 – Perfect Your Pitch

Effective networking also requires you to present yourself and your brand really well. The simple act of introducing yourself over and over at different networking events is a brilliant way to get your elevator pitch just right. Practice makes perfect when it comes to crafting a great introduction, and networking is a brilliant practice ground. Use every new encounter to test different introductions, see how people respond and make a note of the questions they ask. Before long you’ll be pitch perfect!

ROI of Networking

When considering the actual Return on Investment (ROI) of networking, you simply need to keep in mind the old saying that ‘People Buy People’. The very fact that you have widened your network provides greater opportunities for new leads. Go into a networking situation with the intention of meeting great people and building lasting relationships (rather than just selling). In doing this you will find that it brings the reward of referrals long after the initial meeting takes place.

According to Robert Davis form the University of San Francisco, ‘people who participated in networking groups appeared to be above-average networkers, which resulted in more referrals and more clients’. Ivan Misner who is the Chairman of the much renowned networking organisation BNI, talks about this and more in his post on Forbes.com about the ROI of Networking.

Never Stop Networking

Although most networking events take place at a specific location and point in time, the addition of social media tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter ensure that you stay top of mind with your new found connections. Support them by commenting on their blog posts or retweeting them on Twitter. Make sure you drop an email to catch up once in a while. Many networking experts will tell you that the one-to-one follow up is crucial in converting those connections into customers. Social media, email and even the good old phone are brilliant ways of bridging the gap between exchanging business cards and ‘shaking hands’ on a deal.

Become a Better Networker with Ripley Training

As mentioned in the post we have two networking courses aimed at both internal and external networking. These courses will help you to master the art of networking now that you’ve decided it’s a great business investment. We also have a great range of sales courses which can help you question and listen effectively, pitch to perfection and negotiate a great deal when the time comes.

5 Ways to Negotiate Effectively

Negotiation and persuasion are key traits of a successful sales person. Understanding the art of negotiation will not only increase your chances of clinching a deal, but also create a win-win scenario for both parties involved.

Here are our five ways to negotiate effectively when in a sales situation:

1. Be Prepared

Before entering a negotiation situation it’s vital to be prepared. Do your research. Look into the company and individual you’re meeting and make sure you fully understand what their role is and exactly what the business is about. Also, ensure that you know your company, product or service inside out. You want to be sure you can answer any question that is put your way. Perhaps most importantly of all, confirm that you’re going to be meeting or speaking with the right person who can make decisions within the company!

Make sure that you eliminate any potential surprises. This includes having a set budget in mind, with limits on how flexible you can be, as well as having a fail-safe and realistic sales strategy in place.

2. Have a strategy

Don’t go into a negotiation situation blind. Firstly, you need to ensure that both parties are on the same page before entering a negotiation. There is no point in negotiating if you’re both after different outcomes. Your first negotiation will have an effect on the entire meeting, so make sure the first offer is at the upper end, or above, what you really want. Don’t be afraid to be bold, as long as you aren’t being unreasonable.

It is imperative that you remain consistent throughout the negotiation. Always make sure your offer is the last on the table and don’t back down when seeing the other parties’ reactions. Remember, the person you’re meeting with will also have a negotiation strategy. Identifying their approach early on will also help you to remain constant with your offer.

3. Making an Offer

When it comes to making, or even accepting, an offer in a negotiation make sure you are fully clear of all aspects. Know what you will be getting from the other party as well as what is expected of you. Don’t be confused by distractions or decoys, stick to your guns and be confident.

Remember, when you make your offer, the other person will most likely make a counter-deal. Reaching a compromise somewhere in between, if realistic enough, may take a bit of to-ing and fro-ing. According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), an individual gets uncomfortable after around eight seconds of silence and will naturally want to fill it with a counter-offer. However, you should never accept a counter-offer straight-away. Remain in control for the entirety of the negotiation and be persuasive. The only way you’re going to move someone to a new position is by using persuasion techniques.

4. Create a Win-Win Situation

In negotiation it is vital to listen and understand the other party. Find out what they want and what matters most to them. Finding a price that is right for everyone is the first step to achieving a win-win situation. However, be aware of how else you can manage this. Something that they will appreciate but won’t make much difference to you is ideal. For example, timing or implementation and delivery could matter a lot to them. Be flexible by adapting to their needs and build this into your offer. Everyone gets what they want, at an agreed price, and everyone’s a winner!

Be persuasive. Say you’ll throw in some extras for free. Use your persuasive skills to bargain with the other party. By leading the negotiation and being confident you’re also being more influential. Just remember to be subtle, don’t let the other person know that they’re being swayed.

5. Seal the Deal

This is the pinnacle of the entire negotiation. If you have got this far then you really can’t afford any mistakes. Be aware of your body language. According to Entrepreneur, sitting down while sealing the deal indicates calmness and confidence, and suggests consistency throughout the negotiation. Be positive, have full eye contact, smile and don’t be afraid to add a little humour. By making the other person feel comfortable and relaxed, they will be more likely to accept your offer and confirm the deal!

Master the art of negotiation with Ripley Training

Become a successful sales person and improve the bottom line for your business by developing your negotiation and persuasion skills. Our Sales Negotiation Skills course will help you navigate and lead successful negotiations. If you are likely to be on the other side of the table, our Negotiation Skills for Purchasers/Buyers course will help you get the best results for your company when dealing with suppliers.

To find out more, why not give us a call on 01423 861 122? Or fill in our short contact form – we’d love to help you!