Top 5 Networking Tips
Networking events are fantastic for young reps. If you're from the city you're working in, it's a way to introduce yourself to new markets to extend your current network of connections. For a rep new to a city, it's a crucial way to introduce themselves to the market and make new friends and connections. The more a rep throws themselves into the city or market they are in, the more success they'll find.
That said, navigating networking events can be incredibly difficult. I had a boss continuously say how ineffective networking events were. I've also sold three suites, at least a dozen groups, and a bunch of season ticket packages that started at networking events. They work if you really invest in them...but they are absolutely worthless if you don't. Here's some of my top advice on maximizing networking events:
Go by yourself: I'm not even going to say 'go with someone but don't talk to them'. I'm literally saying don't take anyone you know. If the safety net is there, you'll use it, especially as you get started. Go by yourself, force yourself to interact.
Be Smart: Don't go to events that don't make any sense. Sometimes I see reps get a taste and go to every event they can find. That's not smart, either. If it's an educational event with little networking, don't go unless you want that education. If it's an event were you see lots of non-decision makers are going, don't go...unless you just genuinely want to interact.
Don't Sell: Don't sell at the meeting. Focus the conversation on them and their business, and try to go for a follow up meeting/coffee/drink/lunch/etc. Reps tend to go nuts about who their team is and overzealously oversell. Guess what? They know who your team is...and no one ever closed business at a networking event.
Wear Your Badge: To invite conversation, where a polo with your team on it. If it's a nicer event, wear a pin that's easily noticeable. Other people love talking to sports teams...so invite that conversation. Don't hide it and hope they notice it on your name tag.
Be a Connector: Someone is going to try and sell you. Don't say, 'I don't make those decisions at the team.' Say, 'We're a small business, and we're in the business of doing business with businesses who do business with us. If you're willing to explore ticket opportunities, I'm happy to get you connected with the person who makes that decision at the club.' And do it. You can tell your GM of Stadium or COO or whoever that it'll just be a handshake meeting...but it'll help build credibility for yourself and create a sales opportunity.
Those are my top tips for networking events. But here's my biggest. It's all about your attitude. If you don't go because you hear from others they don't work, you'll never sell anything yourself. If you go to talk to your peers at your team, you won't sell anything. If you oversell or don't listen to other people's pitches, they'll just see you're in it for yourself. It can be a tough tightrope to walk...just not if you follow my advice. There's a lot of money to be made at networking events...be the one who goes and gets it.