It’s the Network Stupid

shared brainIn a legendary moment of political strategising Bill Clinton’s team were debating what issues they should run for the presidency on. Issues like abortion, fiscal policy, foreign policy, military funding, you name it were all in the mix with no agreement on what the message should be. Then came the epiphany Clinton smacked himself on the side of the head and exclaimed “it’s the economy stupid”!

This became the message of the campaign and every reporter was (no matter what was asked) was answered in terms of the economy and how Clinton’s reforms would get it going again. A sign carrying the slogan was placed above the door in the war room and after a day or two someone scribbled in pen” and don’t forget healthcare” and the biggest turnaround in presidential electoral history began.
What’s this got to do with the new golden rules of business or with getting better at sales and marketing? Well if I had my way there would be a sign above the door in every sales office in the world that said “It’s the network stupid” and after a week or two you might want to scribble “and don’t forget your business cards”. Twenty years ago you might have had a sign that said “Don’t forget to close” a decade ago the sign might have read “remember to win-win”.
One of the New Golden Rules is “No Network No Growth”.

Now I am not saying no network no sales, you can always drop your price to the point that you buy the business rather than win it but selling more product than last year at a lower price, isn’t net growth it is gross stupidity. The only growth worth having is an increased ratio of profit to turnover, if your turnover increases and your profit ratio decreases you are a busy fool and on the slippery slope to seeing all your profits disappear. Been there seen it done it!
So how do you develop a sales strategy that generates a better profit ratio? It’s the network stupid!

Your personal networking strategy is now far more important to your sales performance than your company’s product development strategy, marketing strategy or financial strategy.

I am going to make you read that twice

Your personal networking strategy is now far more important to your sales performance than your company’s product development strategy, marketing strategy or financial strategy.

Attending a networking breakfast once a month, just going to the local chamber event or taking extra business cards to a conference just doesn’t hack it anymore. You need to engage on a deeper level.

Six keys to developing an intelligised networking strategy:

  1. Care – It’s not about creating pitching opportunities it’s about connecting to and helping people. If you must think of it in sales terms then understand that nowadays (far more than ever) the relationship makes the sale.
  2. You need to Engage on a deeper level – caring widens the communication channels between yourself and others in your network. If you organise monthly networking events and connect online with people in your network on a weekly (if not daily) basis then information will flow and your market knowledge will grow. Knowledge gives you a sales advantage and an engagement advantage. Once you start the process your reputation just grows and grows.
  3. Pay it forward – Don’t give to get – just give – if you only care about your own business you are not building a network. If you genuinely care about your clients and potential clients business and show a genuine interest in them as people then you are building a relationship.
  4. Position yourself – people respond to expertise nowadays in the way that they used to respond to brands – trust is everything and the best way to establish trust is to have your peers recommend you. People don’t recommend people they have transacted with people recommend people they are connected to and people they are currently engaged with. Look at my testimonials page on http://www.intelligise.co.uk or the recommendations on my Linked-in profile http://www.linkedin.com/in/GordonMacIntyreKemp. Want to do better than that? Shoot video testimonials and put them on your site.
  5. Broadcast – As your knowledge begins to grow so will your wish to share your expertise and just as importantly your personality to the market. If you are like me you will have big thoughts and little thoughts – both are as useful to people inside and outside your network and the best ways to convey them are:
  • Blogs – look at these as macro entries in your export diary.
  • Twitter – same thing really but you are limited to 140 characters including spaces – writing tweets as they are called takes a great deal of skill and discipline and its not easy to make them interesting and relevant. I have several twitter accounts and have just started one on networking and social media – I don’t pretend to be the best but take a look at http://twitter.com/theintelligiser

6. Intellicast – People always ask me what are the best networking events to attend and they always get the same answer – the best networking event is the one you run yourself.

  • Seminars – people might not accept your cold sales call but they will actually apologise to you if they can’t make an expert seminar you invite them to. If you don’t know the best way to become an expert read points 1-5 again. Honestly are you still selling to people one client at a time?
  • Speakeasy – Got a dozen people you want to connect with but can’t find the time? Send them all an invite to a bar at 4.30pm one day and connect with them all at once – introduce them to one another and you start to create a meshwork and that’s the best kind of network.
  • Coffee catch ups – set your self a KPI (activity target) of at least two a week you don’t need to have an agenda or a pitch to make just engage and see where it goes.
  • Hot topic dinners – Like a seminar but posher and more expensive so often best used for a group including some of your VIP clients and prospects.
  • Partner Seminars – Who do you know in your network who is completely non competitive with you but targeting the same buyers? Why not share the costs of an event and cross invite your clients. As long as you add value to the event they usually say yes and it’s easy to get 50 people in a room. Need an idea ask me to present on social networking strategies it’s the hot topic at the moment.
  • Caveat – if people attend one of your events and it turns out to be a sales pitch they won’t come back. Use the event to engage, connect and pay it forward your pitch will be welcomed and listened to and trusted. What more do you want?

After a few months you will have more knowledge, deeper relationships, more trust, higher visibility and a better reputation in the market place that your competitors. In short you will become someone that people want to do business with – someone that is indispensible to your clients businesses on a level beyond just the actual transaction, or the features and benefits of your product or service.

Your personal networking strategy is far more important to your sales performance than your company’s product development strategy, marketing strategy or financial strategy.  Hopefully I don’t need to repeat that.

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2 Responses to “It’s the Network Stupid”


  1. 1 Scott August 25, 2009 at 7:59 pm

    Hi Gordon

    Im still enjoying the blog, I was wondering if you were intrested in increasing your readership? I think I can help you with this.

    Cheers

    Scott

    • 2 thenewgoldenrules September 7, 2009 at 1:42 pm

      Hi Scott

      Thanks for the offer to help but I am actually just piloting this right now and in October will be categorising and search engine optimising etc so that people can find it – right now I am turning down business and over the last two weeks leading up to Saturday just gone I had to work 14 X 16 hour days in a row to meet my existing client needs.

      Hence my lack of posts:-)

      So for now the hints and tips are aimed at my friends and contacts in business.

      Gordon
      Intelligise – Be Brilliant


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