Networking: 4 Minutes to Turn Around Your Future!


Networking is a form of prospect “sourcing” that allows you access and exposure to a number of prospects through some arranged medium. This could be an association meeting, a trade show, or otherwise.  It is a true exposure, meaning you are face-to-face with an influencer or potential buyer as opposed to trying to get past a gatekeeper. Networking is also using your contacts, and theirs to meet potential clients. Let’s talk about what networking is and what it can do.


Networking – The Skill

Networking is also a skill set that can yield strong results efficiently.  Quick reads as to whether someone is receptive during the personal contact will help you determine who is an immediate prospect, and whom you need to work on.

That means that although you do not get benefit of racial anonymity, as a Black sales professional you get a chance to impress and inform. If you are solid and you are armed with some of the items below, the networking introduction might be all you need to secure an appointment.

This document is short and to the point and discusses how to prepare for a networking event.  It gives some great guidance about the process, objectives, and preparations.

Networking – The Activity

Networking is an activity that is casual and non-threatening and takes place in many settings. The forums (associations, chambers, etc.) are designed to make these comfortable and easy places to have relevant business discussions.  I would make the statement that if one does not want to be involved with entrepreneurs and sales representatives, they would never attend such  events.

Here are some examples of networking opportunities that are available to sales representatives:

Local Chamber of Commerce Meetings – There is one for each significant municipality.

Trade Association Meetings – Retailers, construction companies, wholesalers, transportation firms, etc. all have some group they are involved with.

Trade Shows – These are great sources of leads with many designed put a particular trade or industry group in the room with those particular organizations that supply and vend to them.

General Networking Events – Usually pre-arranged ‘Meet and Greets’, business cocktail hours, etc.  Usually sponsored by some organization that stands to benefit from getting local organizations together, these allow for easy face-to-face contact with others and can be profitable, yet are not as focused as the others above.

Your event or forum should be thoroughly investigated to avoid wasting your time.  You might ask a couple of relevant questions:

  • How many of your current key clients will be there? They can introduce you to many others, and that is a great way to get credibility and get the immediate referral. Do not be afraid to ask a client to introduce you to some of their peers.
  • Does the group have your type of prospect/customer there? Research the group well for your specific target prospect.

Three Minutes of Fame

You only need that brief opportunity, 3 minutes, to be successful if you consider a few very important points:

  • Have a solid easy to follow introduction that serves you and your company well.  Practice it!
  • Know your ‘elevator speech’, which is your value statement. This is called an ‘elevator speech’ because you have just enough time to tell it between floors to a prospect.
  • Have a closing line prepared. This is the one, which gets you further contact or the appointment.
  • Have your informational/promotional material to hand out “prepackaged” if possible.
  • Keep solid notes and data records.  This is extremely important.

Proper Follow-Up Is the Key

You must do timely and effective follow up to have the whole event be meaningful.  Follow-up with a note or e-mail as soon as is practical.  I prefer a note if possible as I covered in Black Sales Journal 2/3, “Make Yourself Memorable”.

Also follow-up on any promise you have made regarding information or referrals within, or outside, your organization.  Strike while the iron is hot!

Attempt to do these events on a monthly schedule, or try to do one a quarter to increase your scope and prospect base.

Remember as we have said before, be personable and tactical, and you could find yourself sourcing more prospects than you know what to do with.

Give it a try.  Please let us know how it works. You can reach me at

Your Elevator Pitch: 30 Seconds to Create Interest!


I think you know that I think you should “always be prepared”!  The ability to cogently tell someone who you are, who you represent, and what you and your organization does best could make the difference between being successful or being another peddler.  Read about it!


Whether your encounter is face-to-face or you are on the phone “dialing for dollars” you know that you only have a moment to get across a cogent well-timed message to supplement your original sales intro that spurs the buyer to consider you, and your company.

Your ability to include the right elements, coupled with the strength of your delivery may get you that appointment that you desire.  Remember, when cold calling, or phone prospecting the “end game” is to get in front of the customer, and this is the tool that you will use to show your understanding of the following elements:

  • Your understanding of the customer’s needs – Why would they consider and buy?
  • The important features of your product – What makes it desirable?
  • The key considerations of your company – Why is ABC company a leader or an upstart?

Yes, this can be done in one brief passage, and you had better be good at it as attention spans and time constraints require it to be short and on point.  I business this is called an elevator pitch as the time that it takes to go from the 1st to the 7th floor might be all you have get the point across, and ask for the appointment.

The good part is that you can and should practice it over and over until you feel that it is natural and ready for delivery.

Key Points

The above bullets indicate the elements that you are going to convey.  Your objective is to leave someone with a short, almost precise, indication of who you are, what your organization is known for, and why he or she should interact with you.

Here is an example:

Set Up - You are selling widgets in a large metropolitan area.  Your company is one of the largest widget manufacturers and distributors in the northeast.  It is a proven performer, a Fortune 1,000 company with a “state of the art” research and development facility and clever innovation.  Your ability to fill large orders quickly is a big plus.

You are at the airport, preparing to board a flight from Hartford, Connecticut to Dallas, Texas and your winning personality comes through when you have a discussion with a businessman who needs…you guessed it, widgets!

Businessman – Exclaims with exasperation “Our supplier for widgets has basically advised they cannot keep up with our growth and demand.  They are top-flight widgets, yet as a result of our tolerances we are going to have to consider having two suppliers.”

Sales Professional – Sees the opportunity and says, “I certainly understand that situation.  I am in the widget business, and we have been successful in sourcing high quality widgets to our customers with the highest tolerances and in high volumes, with short lead times.  Your widgets are probably the most important component of your product.”

As the sales professional hands the businessman a card he says, “I work for ABC Widgets out of Hartford.  You might be aware that we are the largest, most technologically advanced widget manufacturer in the country according to Manufacturer’s Digest.  Our ability to meet tight tolerances, large orders, and ‘just-in-time’ requests ranks with the best of any widget manufacturers.  Also, since we manufacture and wholesale for other widget producers, we know that we can supply all of your needs. We will do everything possible to keep you from having multiple suppliers.  Give me your card and I will touch base with you Thursday?”

Businessman – “What a coincidence! Here is my card.  Make it Friday when I return and I will look forward to it.”

In this vignette the sale professional seized on the opportunity by describing who ABC Widgets is, and then using a known proof source to get credibility (Manufactures Digest).  He then states that what they are known for, tight tolerances, large orders, and responsiveness.  He was in the right place at the right time, yet while boarding, he had a few seconds, and a ready and effective pitch.

What does it mean for you?

If you are a Black sales professional your pitch should be well rehearsed, delivered with aplomb, and focused on the strength of your company or organization. Whether prospecting or networking, this is that “can-do” statement that you have to master!

When you get deeper into the solicitation process and are delivering solutions, you can begin to stress the assets that you bring.  If all goes well, you will get that chance.

By the way, you may need more than one elevator pitch for different types of industries or products.  Yes, this example may seem oversimplified, yet it you will see the worth of having this prepared discussion many times over in your sales career.

Practice it and make it work for you.

Your comments are welcome. You can reach me at