In the sales world, some things never change. While the way we go about advertising to the public has seen some fairly radical changes over the last decade with the emergence of the internet and social media, there are a few things that remain a constant when we are looking for business.
One of the most important of those is networking. This is especially true in our industry. In a service industry like moving and storage it is imperative to understand that we are really in the “people” business. It is about meeting someone that we have never known before and convincing them that we are the best people to move their family’s possessions. That’s not easy. While they may have found us through some form of our advertising it’s still a task to convince the customer that we are the best people to help them relocate to their new home.
Now imagine how much easier that sale becomes if that contact with your company originates because of a business contact both you and the customer share, a trusted colleague. Now I’m not talking about a traditional referral from previous customers or their families, which is the backbone of our business. What I am talking about are business contacts you have developed and nurtured over time. People that we share similar (but not the same) business interests with or “Your Network”.
Having said that, I think most of us understand the need for networking. Its how we go about doing it that leads to frustration, failure and finally quitting doing it all together. I’ve been there. I can’t tell you how many times over the course of my younger life I started and stopped networking because of frustration or lack of success. Then, like most people do if you try hard enough, I realized that I was joining groups that couldn’t help me. The groups didn’t have the right mix of people for my business. Once I started making better decisions about the networking groups I joined things changed rapidly.
As I said earlier, when looking for a networking group or developing your own network, it is imperative that we find people with similar business interests. Some are obvious, some aren’t. Here are just a few of the many industries that we should look for in our networking groups:
· Mortgage Loan Officers / Banker
· Home Improvement (i.e. Blinds, Plumber, HVAC, etc.)
· Apartment Management
· Cleaners – Residential / Commercial
· Senior Care Facilities
There are many more of course. The point is, be picky, don’t waste your time or money if the mix of people is not a match for you. Also, be aware that you will need to be able to return the favor and provide leads to your network. Groups will become irritated if the flow of leads is not reciprocated.
There are a lot of networking groups out there. Some are structured better than others. My experience is that more structure (every meeting is run with a detailed agenda) means better meeting participation and results. So groups like Business Networking International (BNI) are my particular preference. But it doesn’t have to be yours, find the one that works for you and stick with it. It’s worth it!
I would like to hear from some of you about networking groups that have worked for you so they can be shared with other Red Ball agents.
In closing, I’ll relate a story that I’ve told many times to a lot of people. I’ve worked for some rather large agencies that were very successful companies. All of those companies have been in business for several decades, through generations of their families. The one commonality that each of those companies shared was this very thing. Regardless of how long they had been in business or how successful they were in their markets, they never stop networking, they never stop meeting people and telling the story of their company.
So tell the story of your company to as many people as you can.