How to Sell THROUGH Others, Not TO Others, While Networking

The concept of selling through others, not to others, is a simple concept; however, it can be more difficult in practice. Part of the problem can be attributed to lies we have heard about networking or what people perceive networking to be. 

Networking isn’t about making sales. It’s about building relationships.

No one enjoys feeling like someone else’s dollar sign — and they will likely never buy from you if you make them out to feel that way.

This is one of the great mistakes of networking: Selling directly to your peers. This can appear in a number of ways, including being a “taker” at the table (asking for too much compared to the advice, help and referrals you provide others), rambling about your business, being too specific about what you’re trying to sell (directly trying to sell others on your product/service) — I think you get the idea. 

Networking organizations exist for you to build meaningful, long-lasting relationships with others in your professional business circles. It is not appropriate to solicit other attendees at these events; however, you should attend with an appropriate goal in mind. You should have a strategy — know who you want to talk to or which introductions you need, for example.

You have the power to either turn someone off through your networking strategy OR invest in that relationship and watch as it pays dividends for — potentially — years to come.

Here are our tried-and-true networking tips on how to build relationships and sell THROUGH people in your professional circles:

1. Treat your peers like your friends

Be interested — not interesting. Genuinely care about these people, their successes, the pain points in their business, and what they are trying to accomplish personally and professionally. This is the very beginning step to building a long-lasting relationship. Find common interests and do something about it. Do research on these people in your life. What are they doing well on their social media channels that you can call them and compliment them on later?

2. If you want to connect with someone, find a way to help them

Give before you receive. Find ways to help these newfound business contacts without expecting something in return. Understand their needs in business and find others who you can connect them to. Give a few referrals before you expect any in return. This is part of the trust-building process.

3. Set reasonable expectations

This is an important key while attending networking events. Don’t expect to make a sale at the event. Instead, plan on setting up times where people can tour your brick-and-mortar shop or retail space. Expect to set follow ups with others. Expect to get some newfound knowledge on a problem or issue you’re having. Expect to plant the seed of this new relationships and plan on nurturing it until it flourishes.

4. Attend every networking event with a goal in mind

Keeping in mind your appropriate expectations, know what you want to receive from the networking event before you attend. Is your goal to talk to five people you have never spoken to before? Maybe you want to get 10 business cards, or you want to make sure six more people know about your upcoming event next week. Whatever your goal is — keep in mind that you should be giving in equal amounts as you are taking from others.

5. Follow up

Do not sell to your peers. Follow up and ask, “How are you? What can I do for you?” Maybe you found some common interests with this person at your last networking event: Decide to act on those common interests. For example, if you found that you are both into hiking, make a plan to invite them on your next expedition.