Most radio account executives realize how important it is to capture new business to replace local advertisers who have been mesmerized by shiny new media. They?ll often invest hours in prospecting and asking for referrals ? both of which can help them uncover prequalified new leads. But many have forgotten about one of the most valuable new-business-development tools: networking.
Networking can be one of the most effective ways for a salesperson to capture new business. I?m not talking about glad-handing, schmoozing, or ?working the room? at an event. I?m talking about strategically planned and well-executed networking.
To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, when creating your networking plan, ?Ask not what your network can do for you, but what you can do for your network?. Put another way, it?s not just better to give than receive, it?s better to give because you will receive.
The four keys to effective networking in the real world, and in the social media world, are:
4. Be prepared
1. Your Plan
Choose the right target audience. It makes more sense to join a small network where you have no competitors than it does to join a network where three other salespeople from your station have already established relationships. Also, where possible, review the network membership list to determine which networks have the most viable prospects for you. I recommend participating in at least one industry or business network and one charitable organization or social club that you can help and benefit from.
The same rules apply to social media networks as to real-world networks. Rather than trying to participate in numerous social media platforms in a small way, strategically select two or three that you can contribute to in a consistent and meaningful way.
Your plan should include a budget for both time and money. Creating helpful and useful posts for your social media networks takes time, and contributing your time or expertise to a local club or industry association will always pay dividends over time.
2. Contribute and Participate
Never just sign up or sign on. Just having your name on a roster won?t help you win hearts and minds. More formal or organized networks or clubs will resent self-promoters who don?t contribute to the cause. Choose networks that you genuinely enjoy or have something in common with. Don?t try to fake empathy to capture more business. And ask people within each network what they do. They?ll appreciate your interest, and inevitably ask you what you do.
Become known for what you know. When your network needs help with advertising, marketing, or public relations, contribute your expertise without trying to sell your station every time. Let your news and promotions people know, and try to capture their support. You can win huge points with your network?s members if you can get your station to donate door prizes or airtime.
Quit selling and start listening. How do you feel if every time you see someone, they try to sell you? Listening will always give you valuable insights about your real and virtual networks, their members, the marketplace, and their needs.
Lighten up. Sure, you hope to get business from your network, but that doesn?t mean it?s all business. Enjoy your network, have fun and be fun. When you listen, participate, and contribute to a network, the members will actually approach you and ask for your presentation or advice when they are ready to buy. Being invited to pitch is much more effective than constantly sticking your foot in the door.
4.) Be Prepared
When your network prospect is ready to buy, they?ll ask you for more information. Practice outlining who you are, what you do, and why you are the best at what you do in 50 words or less, and always be ready to hand out your business cards.
Last but not least, once your brand is established, and you?ve built trust, don?t hesitate to ask for referrals from your network contacts.
Wayne Ens is president of ENS Media Inc and conducts local market surveys and educational advertiser seminars to increase local radio revenues. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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