Q&A | Adrian Miller
Adrian Miller has had enough Merlot. “Sometimes standing around [at an event] holding that stupid glass of wine gets very tiresome,” said Miller, founder, president-CEO of Adrian Miller Sales Training, which offers executive-level consulting and sales training. At your garden variety networking event, “people may be engaged in a conversation and not know how to extricate themselves, or not want to extricate themselves because they’re scared to go onto to the next person,” Miller added.
When it comes to pressing the flesh these days, sales managers must take pains to separate their events from the pack. For instance, Miller recently hosted an event for her clients at Bath Junkie, in lower Manhattan, where guests were able to concoct their own lotions, creams and bath cleansers. “It’s a chemistry lab for adults,” Miller said. “It’s much better to have a common activity and something that can be shared. By sharing activities, people can wind up having very substantial conversations.” Miller, whose clients include Cotronics Corp. and Lonely Planet, offered some other tips on effective networking for sales execs.
ZoomInfo: What’s your strategy for online networking?
Miller: Primarily to build visibility, credibility and recognition not only for my company, but personal brand. The strategy is to deploy appropriate articles, links, event notices and other relevant information that would contribute to the reader drawing an impression of – and a feeling for – who I am and what I do. Used strategically, [online networking] should only be able to help, and certainly not hurt, what sales execs are trying to do. People need to make sure that they don’t allow things to appear [online] that would necessarily be contradictory to the image they are trying to grow.
ZoomInfo: When it comes to live networking events, what are some of the ways that sales executives can distinguish their companies?
Miller: The way companies can stand out from the outrageous clutter of networking events that are around 24/7 is to be very careful about who they invite and what’s the ultimate deliverable they want to provide. Is there an informational component, say, bringing in a speaker to address a topic relevant to that audience, coupled with time at the beginning [or end] for focused networking? Should there be facilitators working the room, helping to put peoples’ hands together? Should there be follow-up and follow-through? Make it different (see above) and make it worth somebody’s $50.
ZoomInfo: What’s your take on social media as a networking tool?
Miller: It levels the playing field to a certain degree. It can start the relationship, but no one does business with someone who they know only through some Facebook conversation. No one selects a vendor because they saw a name on LinkedIn. It requires a lot more work, but [social media] enables sales execs to access untold number of people and companies that they didn’t have access to before. It gives sales execs the ability to expand those contacts and connections that, through nurturing, will lead to something more substantial.
ZoomInfo: What are some of the most chronic mistakes sales executives are making in networking, online or offline?
Miller: They spread themselves too thin and then do not stay on the grid of all the people they’re meeting. They shake a hand, they take a card, maybe they follow-up once, but they totally forget that business development is a process and a long-term engagement. It may be better to do less, but more [with contacts]. The other thing is [sales execs thinking it’s all about them. They’re a lot of people who will take your time and tell you who they are what they do and never will the conversation circle back to, ‘And by the way, what can I do for you?’ The biggest mistake is not having a really good touch-point management system in place so that sales execs can ultimately turn all those contacts they’re making into business, instead of a nice card that’s scanned into your computer.
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Adrian Miller has a lively online network at Adrian’s Network. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.