AS A relationship marketing specialist, I am often asked how the relationships I have help me to get more sales. Some people have a more basic problem, and tell me: “I don’t know that many people, so how will I ever get more sales?”

The interesting thing is that we all know lots of people — we just don’t take the time to think about who we know and then ask them about helping us in business to achieve more sales.

Let us look, first of all, at how to find people to help us in our quest for sales. How many people do you know? Take a guess: is it 50, 100 or more?

Interestingly, social scientists tell us that we all know at least 250 people. If you are in business or sales though, I believe you will know many more than that.

Okay, let us test my theory. Take out your mobile phone and check how many contacts you have in there. Check your database program if it is separate and check how many names you have in there.

Next, start to scroll through those contacts and I expect you will find the names of people you had forgotten you knew or wish you had forgotten you knew!

The problem most sales people have is that we know a lot of people and we just don’t keep in touch. But what if you are just starting out and don’t have so many names on your contact list? What do you do?

It is simple. Start by writing down the heading “Associations”. Next, write the following sub-headings: Professional, Sporting and Social. Let’s examine them one by one and see how many new names you can come up with to expand your prospect base and network.

First of all, how many associations do you belong to? Write them down. How many associations are you aware of that perhaps you could belong to or that you know your target market frequents. Now that you have a few names, split them up into the following categories and begin to drill deeper:

 

Professional

What professional body do you belong to? My professional association is the National Speakers Association of Australia, which has around 500 members spread all around Australia.

Some of these people are my competitors and most are not even remotely competing with me. Over the 16 years of my membership, I have built a network of trusted friends and colleagues around Australia that I can go to for help or advice.

That help and advice includes sourcing new clients and prospects. A select group of these people refer business to me regularly and I refer business to them.

I still remember attending my first-ever National Speakers Convention in the year 2000 in Canberra. The overwhelming message I got was “if you want to be successful in your business, get involved in the association”. I came home and volunteered immediately in my local chapter, went on to become the chapter president, joined the National Board and finally became the national president.

I am well-known in the association both locally and internationally. I am also a member of the Global Speakers Federation, which is the umbrella group bringing together 11 other countries’ speaking associations from around the world. 

In fact, I copied the same formula with this organisation and volunteered and served as the international president. I now also have a network of friends and colleagues across 11 foreign countries that are willing to support me by providing market data and business referrals across the world.

Are you a member of your professional association? Are you working your connections hard enough to create business opportunities?

 

Sporting

You need not restrict yourself to professional associations.  I have a good friend who has built a successful financial planning business.  His sporting passion is cricket, so of course he got involved in the cricket club in his hometown Brisbane.  He has just stepped down as the president of that club after serving on the Board for many years.

I have been to many functions at the club with him and watched as he builds and maintains relationships, which lead to sales on a regular basis.

 

Social

You too can duplicate this model by joining an association and getting involved. It doesn’t have to be your professional industry body or a sporting body — it could be your local gardening club, your bridge club or whatever takes your fancy.

The secret here is to get involved. Volunteer, get to know people and have the attitude that giving will enable you to receive.

Does that mean you will be swamped with business sales overnight just by joining an association? Absolutely not, but with time, effort and service, you will begin to reap the rewards of having a large network of people who are interested in helping you become successful.

 

Article by Lindsay Adams, a relationship marketing specialist, international speaker with Training Edge International and the 2009 – 2010 international president of the Global Speakers Federation. For more information, visit www.trainingedgeasia.com or e-mail lindsay.adams@trainingedgeasia.com