Last night’s free online sales training for members of the Accidental Salesman Business Development Club featured Dave Clarke, CEO of NRG Networks, telling us how to get our network to sell for us. It was a well attended event and lots of questions posed by attendees – obviously a subject close to people’s hearts. The prospect of getting an ongoing stream of high quality referrals into your target market is a highly attractive one – but how do you go about it?

Dave covered many of the mistakes that people make when they network including trying to sell rather than develop a relationship, failing to follow up with people you meet, and not being able to clearly articulate what you do in simple terms when people ask you.

One of the highlights of the session was a four stage model of going from first meeting someone to have them become an advocate:
1. Make contact
2. Follow up
3. Build relationship
4. Develop advocacy

Dave suggested you should follow up with people that you like and would be happy to spend some time with. You would have some form of 1-2-1 meeting either by telephone or ideally face to face. You should keep in contact and let the relationship take its course.

If you are meeting enough people then some will take longer than others and some may never go beyond the follow-up. In order to develop the relationship into one where they are happy to advocate you then they will normally want to experience what you do or hear from someone they know and trust who has experienced what you do. Testimonials are good and if you can demonstrate what you do, perhaps in a seminar or by answering people’s questions it all helps.

Obviously, you will not ‘gel’ with everyone you meet and Dave covered some activity numbers based on research done by NRG Networks. He suggested if we meet 10 people and follow up with 5 of them, 3 will develop into some form of relationship and 1 will eventually advocate you and what you do. So if you want to develop 10 advocates then you need to go out and meet 100 people – not just anyone but people likely to know the type of clients you want to be referred to.

To find out more about NRG Networks and their excellent lunchtime networking meetings or to get their regular tips go to their webisite at