The new rule of social/ marketing networking: Make friends, not contacts – Triumph-Abatan Oluwayomi, Managing Director, ATCO Homes

It is a known fact, that YOUR NETWORK IS YOUR NET WORTH. However, you would need a deeper level of emotional connection to obtain a favourable outcome in any network of friends and sales prospects. At ATCO Homes , a top real estate firm, we consistently emphasize the need for useful network affiliation and active engagement within such a valuable circle among our stretching line of sales consultant. That effort continues to yield good returns. 

ATCO Homes marketing effort

If you run a business or dream of starting one, this insight applies to you. No business can thrive without a consistent recourse to a network of well-resourced people. Microsoft thrived exceedingly at inception by leveraging the community of developers. 

While pitching our scaled real estate products to prospective clients, we concentrate on understanding their warries and aspirations as well as working with whatever level of income they belong to uncover fresh opportunities to invest or own a home. This strategic relationship-building approach helps us go beyond merely collating names, business cards, emails, phone numbers and pins of prospects to getting involved in the life journey of the prospects. 

See, real selling begins where your sales teams are able to convert contacts to partners. I hope this insight helps your sales team sweat less and sell more.

Precisely, real sales networking takes off when contacts translate into friendship. But friendship cannot exist among people whose aspirations do not align. Achieving some measure of relational alignment requires mutual exchange of value.

Your ability to yield value within a network determines the depth of your relevance. Relevance in turn breeds friendship. Where friendship is well nurtured it evolves into partnership. A partnership is the last rung into a lasting profitable business relationship. Of course, this is when a network translates into net-worth – a platform for business opportunities and unusual favour. 

A lot of people like to attend events such as industry meet & greets or fellowships to broaden their networks. At these events, you find people move from tables to circles exchanging a modest grin, some handshakes and extend cards or exchange phone numbers.

 It sounds like a routine – isn’t it? Yet a few grins and smiles do not always translate into the valuable connections that translate into business opportunities. It is unlikely that your grinning face would register for long in the consciousness of the busy folks attending a tech event or concert. Not so many are social genius like Bill Clinton who understood how to arrest and court people’s attention almost instantly – now you know how he succeeded in serving two terms as a USAP despite a scandalous first tenure!

Structurally, the hubs of a network must have strings that connect each strand in the grid. Where the string is not deeply enmeshed you would have a silo, which is nothing more than a disconnected strand. 

Effective relationship connection therefore requires emotional plug-in into a highly powered grid of market prospects. Being a mere contact in a marketing network does not match this description. Approaching the network like a circle of friends does.

Sales networking requires being in sync, in a simpler term, making friends, with people in your industries and providing values that establish your relevance in the entire networking chain. The strings that connect the networking strands are channels of value.

By ensuring a consistent transfer of value, the rest of the hub will be emotionally, materially and psychologically greased for the overall prosperity of each member. It does mean the relevance of each strand must be maintained through an unbroken value flow.

More, each member of a marketing network plays one of these roles: a ‘motivator’ that releases the energy of every member; a ‘resource hub’ that provides valuable referral at any possible point; or a ‘power centre’ that leads the execution of bold initiatives.

Take, for instance, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook is both a ‘resource hub’ and a ‘power centre’. Mark was able to convince Sheryl Sandberg, a well respected former Chief of Staff to the US Secretary of Treasury.  She was also a Vice President of Global Online Sales & Operations at Google. Sheryl was worth about $1.6 billion and possesses some of the best business operation skills coveted by any company. 

How did Mark convince Sheryl to make the move from Google to Facebook? 

Well, he figured it out quite alright. He spent time on this. They had dinners on a few occasions without talks about switching. There were also phone calls simply tacked to ‘checking to see you are fine’. Since unbroken flow of communication evolves into a deeper level of emotional connection, Mark was able to translate to selling Facebook aspirations to Sheryl. You know what? Before long Sheryl had become the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. With her, Facebook is conquering the world.

Here are a few tips to convert your contact to a valuable friendship/ partnership that is likely to yield marketing opportunities:

  1. Understand The Other Persons’ Interests & Plugin Your Relevance: Find out what appeals to the other person. Is your new contact interested in tech? Social trends? What does he or she aspires to? By gaining insight into what interest the other person you would be able to tailor your playbook. 
  2. Make Occasional Phone Calls: Don’t just keep a business card you received from a contact, or store away the phone numbers a prospect shared with you. Text or ring back to say ‘Hi, I’m so-and-so, we met today @ XYZ. I’m so glad we did. Just want to say thanks for the card, smile, peep etc’. This is an ice-breaker or a rasp on the door. In some two weeks, you may check again with a ‘Just-checking-to-say hello’ text or phone call.’ As part of your conversation you may add, ‘By the way, have you heard about the industry…?’ Hey, by bringing in something you can both relate to for a brief discussion, you hit a new chord in your relationship. That is when the relationship begins.
  3. Seek Another Opportunity To Meet Again In Person: This may occur during an event they are attending. Tell them you would be around. Share a seat if possible with them. There you go. You are climbing the relationship ladder. Welcome to social/ marketing networking. If you keep following these routines, you would soon discover you have someone to sell almost anything to in the world.

Triumph-Abatan Oluwayomi is the Managing Director of ATCO Homes, a real estate firm with portfolios of new built residential homes in Lekki and the Ibeju-Lekki areas of Lagos. 

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