“Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure.” ~ Bob Bitchin
The COVID-19 outbreak is a classic example of things not going to plan. However, your attitude and preparedness towards this unplanned can determine how you emerge from its aftermath. It all comes down to “pivot or perish.”
Trade shows, industry events, dinners, conferences, and mixers have been some of the commonest channels of business networking. However, with government-imposed lockdowns, quarantine and self-isolation, and travel restrictions in place, this present situation may not seem ripe with opportunities to connect with a thriving sales network.
The unprecedented nature of the disruption paired with the fact that there is no knowing as to when we can return to “the normal” makes the situation even more tricky!
But, what if we told you that you could bypass these obstacles with just a few modifications? And that there are still several ways for remote sales networking?
Here are some strategic tips to navigate networking for sales in the current and post-COVID world:
9 Essential Remote Sales Networking Tips to do Business Networking in 2020
Successful B2B businesses depend on their sales network to build long-lasting relationships with key industry stakeholders. Here are a few crucial sales networking tips for sustaining these efforts even as you work remotely:
1. Attend/Host Virtual Events
Fortunately, the technological advancements in the past few years have been driving the large-scale adoption of virtual events for a while now. However, 2020 marked the year where it was its time to shine.
Organizations that had to cancel their in-person B2B events can make a quick recovery by taking the event online. Plus, they bear a significant advantage over the traditional events in the form of lower operational and setup costs, no geographical restrictions, improved availability, and flexibility to conduct or reschedule arrangements even at short notice.
Ultimately, the overall premise of any event, digital or otherwise, remains the same - to provide value to the attendees. Thus, stick to this proposition throughout the planning stage.
While transitioning into the digital realm, do make it a point to help your event attendees. Some individuals may struggle to get the hang of your particular carrier technology. Hence, share informative guides and offer tech support well in advance before the D-day. Event hosts will have to stay proactive to keep the attendees engaged.
Participants may keep an eye out for virtual events that are replicating the immersive experience of traditional business networking activities. From digital breakout sessions to live Q&As to webinars, these virtual conclaves will bring everyone together, even if you are worlds apart.
2. Repurpose Event Content
Have you had to cancel an event on short notice?
Here is one of the best sales networking tips - repurpose content!
Successful events rest on the pillars of high-quality, informative content. Naturally, you may have invested quite a lot of time and effort into building your content base. And while the cancellation of the event would mean that you can no longer distribute it in person, you can always hand out digital pamphlets and brochures! Do not forget that eBooks and whitepapers continue to stay high in demand in the B2B environment.
At the same time, you can refurbish the content and share it in different ways! For instance, consider a podcast for keynote speeches or a handy infographic for the graphs, charts, and visual aids.
Thus, you can make adjustments to the existing content and incorporate value in innovative forms.
3. Look Beyond Geographical Limitations
Physical distance was one of the greatest limitations of in-person events. Fortunately, with remote sales networking opportunities, you no longer have to worry about these anymore.
Businesses now have the freedom to involve leaders, guests, and participants across continents! Even as a guest, virtual events have made it possible for visitors to break into local or regional sales networks that they may have otherwise missed out on. At the same time, attendees no longer have to worry about scheduling and acquiring travel sanctions, and can absorb a wealth of industry-specific knowledge right in the comforts of their home or office!
2020 has offered an expansive view of how organizations can accelerate global business networking opportunities and execute them. Now is the best time to get your business functioning remotely.
4. Network With Event Invitees
Sure, the cancellation of events, seminars, and gatherings has been a bummer.
How about using this to your advantage? List out all the conferences that had been scheduled for this year but had to be canceled due to the pandemic. You may then contact the organizers and get your hand on the list of guest speakers and invitees. You could also ask them for a list of attendees for the previous editions of the events.
Identify the ones who show up regularly to such events. Once you have them sorted, shortlist about half a dozen names that you have commonalities with, these could be personal or professional. For instance, you may have started your career at the same company or support the same football team. Use it to develop a warm pitch that you will use while connecting directly with them. Find them on LinkedIn and strike up a conversation citing the canceled event and how you looked forward to getting in touch with them. Share your contact details with them and wait for them to get back to you!
In this manner, you can turn around the situation and continue to build relationships irrespective of the events.
5. Up Your LinkedIn Game
LinkedIn is a B2B business networking goldmine. From an intern to the CEO - you can use it to connect with almost anyone and everyone!
If you are not on LinkedIn yet, then you are missing out on great networking opportunities with every passing second!
Therefore, start by building your LinkedIn profile. Add all your details, starting with your educational qualification, work experience, and area of expertise. This data is crucial as it will help you find the common grounds for networking for sales. You may find someone who is an alumnus of the university that you attended or who is interested in your line of work, and you can use it to initiate conversations. Plus, it lends authenticity and credibility to your claims.
Join several LinkedIn groups and start value-added and meaningful conversations with those around you. While connecting with others, skip the automated message and draft a well thought out ice-breaker that is bound to elicit a response. Introduce yourself to the connection and cite the common thread that you are leveraging to start the discussion. Keep the conversation light and open-ended, and you will be equally rewarded.
6. Leverage Social Media Platforms
Social selling is “in.”
And businesses are scrambling to get on every possible social media platform.
Naturally, if companies are making their online presence felt, then why should the employees be left behind?
In most circumstances, it may not seem very professional if you try to establish direct contact with someone on their Facebook account. However, finding the individual over a shared Facebook group and addressing their concern presents itself as a complete game changer! Through this route, you are opening doors for yourself, and your target would be more open to talking to you over Direct Messages.
Thus, hunt for Facebook groups that contain several individuals from your line of business. Start by introducing yourself and post on these groups regularly. Depending on the response that you receive, you can develop a robust sales network.
Similarly, Twitter can be yet another underutilized playing field where you can carry out B2B networking. For starters, you can look up the event-specific hashtags that businesses were running to promote and market industrial events. Find out the leaders or enthusiasts who either attended the event or planned on doing so and network with them. Subsequently, follow the latest Twitter hashtags for your industry, contribute to it, and gain some visibility!
7. Collaborate & Partner with Peers
It is by no means an exaggeration when one says that the world, in general, is shrinking. The primary driving force behind this is the level of connectivity and communication that we enjoy thanks to technology.
As a result, industries and business networks are developing tight-knit communities to help each other out to overcome difficulties and disruptions. Given that sales networking is primarily about locating opportunities that serve a common, mutual benefit, you should take this time to tap into the same.
Interestingly, the COVID-19 outbreak and its resultant aftermath saw one of the highest levels of social collaborations and partnerships to maintain business continuity. And while the crisis may not call for large scale mergers or acquisitions, it leaves ample room for crowdsourcing content to reach a wider base. Such an initiative will drive your B2B sales network connections, making it an excellent strategy for networking for sales.
8. Involve the Business Leaders and Senior Executives
Gone are the days when CEOs, Directors, and Chairpersons were an untouchable entity. We are living in exciting times when the mightiest of business leaders have become more approachable, and everyone is just a click away! In fact, they are the ones reaching out to their customers and employees to build a personal rapport.
With remote networking opportunities, even the busiest of people have a fairly comfortable schedule. As a result, they are more available to actively engage with others and get on board with business networking. Hence, you can rope in a few big names for your virtual events or request them to make an appearance within your circuits. Their involvement and participation will add value to your sales network.
9. Leverage Virtual Conferencing Tools
Whether you prefer business networking in person or remotely, the overall flow of developing a connection remains the same. Here’s what it usually looks like:
- It starts with a meeting point over a common platform (physical or virtual)
- Professionals interact with each other to discover common interests or connections.
- They decide to stay in touch and may even communicate or meet each other periodically.
- Finally, they dive into working together whenever such an opportunity arises.
Clearly, remote sales networking opportunities have found creative channels to reproduce the same process and effect. In fact, it has taken it one step further to help individuals connect with a wider diaspora without any limitations.
However, you can only execute this idea seamlessly when you equip your sales team with the required set of tools! List out all the crucial tools that you would require to facilitate networking for sales and invest in them. These tools offer a handsome ROI, which will justify the spending.
Having the right tools can make remote networking easy, effective, and efficient. CRM and leadgen platforms, such as Clodura, can give direction to your business networking efforts and help unearth high-quality contacts. Video conferencing tools such as Skype, Zoom, and FaceTime can mimic face-to-face conversations. Chat and instant messaging tools, like Slack, Google Hangouts, and LinkedIn Messenger, can facilitate communication. And finally, cloud-based storage solutions, like DropBox and Google Drive, can establish a virtual collaborative platform.
As we can see from above, remote networking for sales does not have to be an intimidating task. In fact, when you look closely, you can draw parallels between winning over a prospect and business networking! Hence, you can play the game that you have already mastered! All you need is the right set of tools and the attitude to match to reach this objective.
When done correctly, the above sales networking tips can expand the overall scope of your sales network astronomically!
Once you are successful in sales networking, be unafraid of being selective and particular about who you wish to network with versus those you can work without. When you are up and rising, the follower number game may seem attractive, but with time, it is quality of the sales network that matters. When you invest your time, efforts, and energy into aligning with like-minded individuals, you will be an unstoppable force.
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