Your leads won’t come knocking

I’ve been doing B2B sales for about 20 years now and have been running my own firm, for the past 10.

We focus on marketing, but we’re really a sales pipeline company. We help B2B companies build and manage their entire pipelines.

If there’s one thing I could go back in time and tell myself at 25, it would be to begin seriously building up my professional network early and often.
 
My network at that age was just my colleagues and former colleagues. It wasn’t until I started my own business that I realized that I couldn’t just count on business to show up at my doorstep.
 
Most of my business today comes from inbound referrals which has a direct connection with how much daily prospecting and networking I’m doing.

LinkedIn has been instrumental in this process and it’s not just a platform, but it’s where these relationships live.
 

Your wake up call

If you’re looking at your own professional network and it’s lacking, here’s your wake up call. The best time to start is always 10 years ago, but the second best time to start is right now.
 
I think investing in relationships is similar to investing in businesses. Over time, the value of those investments begins to compound.

In my own business, just recently someone I met over 6 years ago reached out to start doing business with me.

Before that, we were just working on different things albeit in the same industry.

Because I fostered the relationship over the years, now that the timing is right I immediately came to mind as a potential business partner.


 

It’s a daily habit

These days I’m proactive in who I’m connecting with. I have a daily networking checklist that I run down every morning as I dive into my work session.

I look at my calendar, prior meetings, and who I’ve been emailing and make sure I’m connected with them on LinkedIn and social media.

I do my best to be aware of what’s going on in their worlds. I’m also constantly connecting with people who’ve come to my website and downloaded our best practices guides and naturally want to connect further.

That’s just me practicing what I preach.

As a company, we’ve been aggressive at creating these new relationships and maintaining them over time via LinkedIn.

It’s not authentic if you’re not doing it yourself, so it does take some real dedicated effort if you want to do it right.
 

Think long-term

Let’s say you’re out at a conference or any event in life that is a networking situation. Then on some level your job is to make as many connections as humanly possible.

Even if they don’t seem like good business connections at the time, you never know how things could change.

You don’t know what their next job will be or who they’ll meet that’s perfect for you.

It can be as simple as always saying hi to the people in front of you and behind you in the lunch lines. Just be sure you follow up with them after the event.

There are no shortcuts to this it’s just energy and effort. If you just met briefly – keep it you casual and reference the food you shared or the environment.

Don’t mention sales or business and don’t use the auto message LinkedIn provides. Even a micro amount of personalization goes a long way. It helps if you do reference something about yourself that will help them remember you!

This is key after bigger events when everyone’s flying all over the place. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for the other party to say “yes” to you.

 

Action Steps

  1. Be proactive in building your network by doing a daily rundown where you connect with the people you’re currently working and communicating with. Look at your calendar, emails, and social media interactions.
  2. Connect with everyone you meet at events, and be sure to follow up afterward.
  3. Don’t mention business or do a sales pitch in your first interaction. Keep it light and casual.
  4. Reference to something they can remember you by.
  5. Personalize everything at least a little bit. Don’t send auto-messages.

 

Result You Will Achieve

More connections for your network by being proactive and seeing everyone you meet as a potential connection.

Mentor: Matt Heinz

Founder of Heinz Marketing. Matt is a business and marketing development expert, author and nationally recognized award winning blogger.

 
This article is based on an EHQ interview with the mentor.