10/03/2015 - 14:58

Nothing beats a bit of face-time

10/03/2015 - 14:58

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Getting out there and meeting people is still the best way to grow your professional network, and your sales.

Nothing beats a bit of face-time
CONNECTION: A meet and greet adds value. Photo: iStockphoto

Getting out there and meeting people is still the best way to grow your professional network, and your sales.

How important is face-to-face networking to sales, relationships, career, and success?

I asked my commercial insurance agent, John Cantrell, to give me a synopsis of his networking strategies. John has been a friend, client, and vendor for the past 22 years. Here are two important facts about John …

1. His insurance business has experienced significant growth over the past 22 years.

2. He is a major business networker in Charlotte.

I asked John to tell me what networking has meant to him and his business over the past 20 years. His immediate response was that it had been the foundation of his most valuable clients, friends, suppliers, and relationships.

Here’s the background of how to succeed as a local business networker from arguably the toughest sales category on the planet – insurance.

Here is John’s story and tips in his own words.

“When I started in the insurance business, the first thing I did was join the Charlotte Chamber. I started in the insurance business in 1993 as a fresh graduate from East Carolina with a finance degree. My dad gave me an opportunity, a desk, a chair, and a salary with a declining scale. He wasn’t going to throw me in at the deep end immediately, but he did make it clear that I had to learn how to ‘eat what I kill’.

Shortly after joining the chamber, I was a little discouraged. One of my best friends, Richard Herd, and I were talking one day about me not continuing to participate in the chamber. It was about six months after I joined and he said: “Just stick it out, get involved, get on some committees, and see what happens after a year. If you don’t like it, I’ll pay for your membership.”

Little did I know that, 20 years later, some of the people I met then would be my best friends and longest term clients. 

Here is John’s networking and leadership history in the Charlotte Chamber.

Business growth network. Served on committees welcoming new members and meeting other small business owners.

Entrepreneur of the year awards. Committee member and chair for three years. Involved in selecting, interviewing, and running the event.

Charlotte chamber business owner peer group. For five years he met monthly with non-competing business owners to discuss business problems; how to hire, fire, train, and market business.

Chamber new member orientation. For two years he chaired and led a monthly meeting to explain how the chamber works for new members.

Charlotte area councils. John has been involved in this for 10 years and he’s still active at the monthly lunch meetings where they bring in a speaker and offer time to network.

Business after hours. Cocktails after work with other business professionals at different venues around town. Great way to keep friendships current.

Charlotte Chamber board adviser. A higher-level membership that attracts more of the high-level business owners and managers.

“It’s about the developing core networking places and participating, getting involved, and establishing a leadership position,” John says.

“But, everyone is different. Some people are morning people, and some are night owls. Work at your best system and process that lets you get the most done in the time that you dedicate to networking.”

Note to newcomers: When you are brand-new in the sales world, you don’t have a lot of things filling your calendar. Fill it with networking events and chamber events. Fill it with opportunities to meet and build your network of people. The best strategy is to help them achieve the things they’re trying to achieve. Pay it forward and you’ll always get paid back.

 

Jeffrey Gitomer is an American author, professional speaker and business trainer, who writes and lectures internationally on sales, customer loyalty and personal development.

© 2015 All rights reserved. Don’t reproduce this document without written permission from Jeffrey H. Gitomer and Buy Gitomer.

 


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