Networking and sales is a delicate balance. One of the assets of a great salesperson, besides industry knowledge and sales charisma, is their rolodex. Did I just date myself? Perhaps I should say it’s their LinkedIn connections. Who you know is sometimes more important than what you know.
My networking strategy is not designed to close business. It is designed to be a network of help that opens a two-way door. The risk of selling to my network is that it changes the dynamic of the relationship from a connection to a customer. My behavior as a customer is much different than my behavior as someone in your network. As a customer, I’m only responsive when I need what you are selling. As a connection, I’m more likely to meet or respond if you need an introduction.
“But,” you say, “I have a great offer and I want to share it with my network!” It’s still sales and they are the customer, not a connection. If you’re in a sales role, use your network to open doors that will close business. If you consistently reach out to sell them something, you might find yourself without a network.
I’m very curious to hear other opinions on this topic. Do you have one?