Subscribe to the Podcast now on Apple Podcasts!
Become a member of the elite Institute for Excellence in Sales and take your sales career to the next level!
Attend the next Institute for Excellence in Sales Women in Sales Leadership Forum starting April 22, 2022. Register here.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a replay of the Sales Game Changers LIVE virtual learning session sponsored by the Institute for Excellence in Sales on February 24. 2022. It featured an interview with IES Ambassadors and Networking experts Lori Saitz and Jeff Englander.]
LORI’S’ TIP: “Visualize the kinds of connections that you want to bring into your network. Do a little visualization, setting and intention. Visualize the kinds of conversations you would like to have and feel gratitude for them as if they have already happened.”
JEFF’S TIP: “Download your LinkedIn connections to your Dropbox, PC or wherever you go. Take a look at the file. It takes about 10, 20 minutes for LinkedIn to send it to you, they’ll process your request and send you an email. Take a look at that file and come up with five people that you haven’t connected with in over two years. You have all these people in your connections, who haven’t you talked to in two years that you already know? Reach out to them this afternoon. Pick up the phone. If you can’t reach them by phone, send them an email, but reach out to them.”
THE PODCAST BEGINS HERE
Fred Diamond: We have two of the foremost experts on networking, especially right now during some challenging times. We have Lori Saitz and we have Jeffrey Englander. It’s great to see you both. It’s an interesting time, things are beginning to come out. I’m actually broadcasting today from Florida and did a trip to meet a bunch of friends from the Institute for Excellence in Sales and some family, and Florida, ladies and germs, is open for business. Wherever you go, people are still sort of wearing masks in various places, but not hardly as much as it was before.
I think we’re going to start getting back to a lot of in-person things, but we’re still slowly crawling out. We’re going to be talking to Lori today and Jeffrey about some of their tactics. It’s great to see you both, let’s just get started. Let’s get right into it. Lori, why don’t you go first? Give us your first suggestion. What should people here know about networking? Give us a couple ideas to get us going.
Lori Saitz: Thanks so much for having me on your show. One of the first things about networking to keep in mind is that networking is about building relationships. People think, oh, I’ve got to go to a networking event because I’ve got to sell something. It’s about figuring out, how can I help the other person? How can I learn about what they need? How can I get into a conversation, which is how relationships start? How can I learn about them and see how I can help them, and who can I introduce them to? First and foremost, it’s about helping.
Fred Diamond: As I’m thinking about you both, you both have been very involved with the Institute for Excellence in Sales, you’re ambassadors. Lori, you actually once did the intro to this show. We haven’t been using it the last couple years because of the pandemic, but you were the voice over talent to get this show started. I’ve known you for at least 10, 12 years. Jeffrey Englander, I met you at a CONNECTpreneur event. We both had a booth next to each other and you’ve become a great friend, and same thing with you. It’s probably been 7, 8 years. These relationships that Lori’s talking about, they take time and eventually they’re going to possibly lead not just to business, but to introductions, referrals. Jeffrey, what do you think about that? The concept that Lori brought up about, it’s about conversations, it’s about just getting things going?
Jeffrey Englander: Relationships are key in sales. In fact, that’s how you sell today, is through your contacts, through your networking, because you’ve already built relationships with folks. I always tell people, your network is a valuable asset to you in sales. What I mean by that is it’s truly a contact list of people you can refer to that you have relationships with over the years when you want to seek new business, you’re looking for referrals. But you don’t ask them so much for, “Can we do business?” Rude.
The reality is this, is that you can ask for referrals and people are willing to help you – if they know you, obviously. But I ask you to manage your network wisely, it is an asset of yours, and make sure that you keep in touch with folks. I’ll suggest something later on. But whether you’re 25 or 55, you have a network and it’s people you’ve already established relationships with, but you may not have been in contact with. That’s something that I think that you should go back and take a look. If you’re 25 years old, you’d say, “Well, I don’t have much of a network.” Actually, you probably do, you just don’t realize it. Go back to your college days, go back to other days, you’d be surprised how many people you know.
Fred Diamond: Lori, give us some thoughts on that. Where can your network come from? Jeffrey mentioned that you’re 25 or 55, he alluded to college. Give us some insights on where people may be thinking about their network maybe coming from, besides just typical business-type events.
Lori Saitz: You’re absolutely right. I used to teach networking strategies and one of the things I would always teach, especially younger professionals, is that your network is your most valuable asset. Somebody could take away everything from you and you can rebuild if you have a strong network. For example, when you’re just coming out of college or even any point in your career, look at your social circles. I was part of a sorority, and my senior year I wanted to drop out because I was just done with it. But even then, I realized that could be a valuable asset down the road, to still be plugged into all those women and to be able to have that network. Church, religious, synagogue, wherever. Social outlets, are you playing softball on a team in a rec league or something like that? Jeff mentioned alumni associations. Anywhere that you are where other people are, you have an opportunity to build your network.
Fred Diamond: I was in a fraternity as well and most of the people I went to college with didn’t go into business. They went into either medicine or they’re lawyers. There was one particular guy I stayed friends with and I didn’t even remember this. He actually did very, very well. He sold his company a couple of times and a couple years ago he said to me, “I don’t know if you realize this or not, but you got me my biggest client of all time.” I was like, what are you talking about? He says, “You don’t really remember this but I asked you for an introduction to a particular company, it led to a deal, which led to our biggest deal of all time.” I didn’t even remember making the introduction, but he did and it didn’t lead necessarily to business to me, but I helped someone be very successful.
I’m curious, Lori. What do you think is the worst networking question? You and I have talked about this before, but let’s say I’m at an event or even a social gathering or even on the beach. What is the worst question you could possibly ask?
Lori Saitz: The worst question is that ‘what do you do’ question. We’ve been trained to ask it and it is absolutely the worst question. The better question is, “Tell me your story,” or – there are two – “What are you excited about working on these days?” Because people can take those questions and run with them in whatever direction they want. Especially, for example, if somebody’s in between and they’re in a transition, how do you answer that ‘what do you do’ question? It’s uncomfortable to say, “Well, I’m really looking for my next opportunity.”
Fred Diamond: Jeffrey, do you ever ask that question? Do you ever go to networking events and say, “What do you do?”? Or do you have a better question you like to do to break the ice to get things started?
Jeffrey Englander: To be honest with you, I ask that same question, but Lori’s suggestion is spot on, because what you’re trying to do is make the other person feel comfortable. That’s really what it comes down to, is making them comfortable. This way you have a better conversation.
Fred Diamond: It’s a good point, because you’re going to get to the ‘what do you do’. It depends on where you are, if you have a half hour zoom, obviously if we go back to in-person events, if you ask the ‘what do you do’, that’s going to be a very brief conversation. But I think the goal here is we’re talking about long-term, we’re talking about developing that relationship and you want to interest the person enough to see them again. Lori, what do you think?
Lori Saitz: Exactly. Again, you want to learn about who the person is, not just what they do. When you ask that ‘what do you do’ question, people tend to say, “I’m a financial advisor,” or, “I sell electronic equipment.” Whatever it is, that just tells you really what their title is, it doesn’t tell you anything about who they are as a human.
Fred Diamond: That’s interesting also. I’ve been to some networking events, I remember one in particular. We went around the room and said what we did and one of the guys said, “I work for a bank, you know what banks do.” Everybody laughed. The reality is not everybody knows what banks do. You have your checking, you savings, probably, but you don’t know what type of loans they can give, you don’t know what type of industries they serve. Even things like that, almost everybody is specific to a vertical where they have some kind of history and be a little bit broad there. Jeffrey, you’ve been a sales guy for a long time. You’ve worked with tons of deals. You and I were talking recently about how you like to keep a list of all the deals that you’ve done over the years to be able to refer to those to expand your network as well. Could you just talk about that a little bit?
Jeffrey Englander: When I first started, one of my first sales managers actually mentions to me off the cuff, “Jeff, make a list of all the deals you’ve done.” That’s what I’ve done over the years. What you do is just who the company was, the people involved, whether you won or lost – because sometimes you remember, sometimes you don’t. But most importantly, who are the deal team members on the other side? Who are the customer contacts? If you’ve gone through the process, you’ve submitted a proposal and they’ve accepted it, then make a list of all those. Win or lose, doesn’t matter. The reason why is thanks to The Great Resignation, people are moving around. You may have lost a deal, but guess what? They may have moved somewhere else. You follow them on LinkedIn, reach out to them, they’ll remember that. Maybe, down the road when they’re looking for similar solutions, they reach out to you first.
Fred Diamond: We have a question that comes in here from Miriam and I’m going to ask it to both of you. Miriam says, “I’m uncomfortable making introductions when I don’t really know the person very well and they request them.” Jeffrey, talk about your comfort level in making introductions, because one of the values of the network isn’t just, “I’m friends with Lori, how can Lori and I do business?” It’s, “Should I introduce Lori to Jeffrey?” One of the cool things about the Institute for Excellence in Sales that I never really appreciated in the beginning, I would see people meeting for breakfast or for lunch at a restaurant or a hotel and I would say, “Jeffrey, how do you know Lori?” Jeffrey would say, “We met her at the IES.” You create that foundation for bringing people together. Jeffrey, you go first. Comfort level with making an introduction when you’re not really sure it makes sense. Then Lori, I’m interested in your thoughts.
Jeffrey Englander: The first thing I would do, Miriam, is contact the person. Get on the phone with them, get on a Zoom call with them first and find out maybe a little bit deeper of why you’re interested in an introduction. This way, at least you have more comfort level with them. Maybe, maybe not, but at least you tried to make that effort and you also see how they react in a conversation. It gives you a little bit more confidence to introduce them to somebody you know.
Fred Diamond: Lori, how about you? What’s your comfort level with taking it to the next level?
Lori Saitz: Jeff makes a good point about getting on and learning a little bit more about what that person wants. I like to reach out to the person they want to be introduced to and say, “I have this person who’s interested in meeting you,” and I could even say at that point, “I don’t really know them all that well but this is what I do know. Are you open to an introduction?” I like to get buy-in from both people before I make an introduction, unless I know somebody really well and I know that they’ll be okay whoever I send their way.
Jeffrey Englander: Buy-in is the key word from Lori. Thank you, Lori. Buy-in is critical.
Fred Diamond: We actually have a question here that comes in from Richard and it’s on the same topic. Richard’s question is, “Could Lori and Jeff give advice on how they ask for referrals?” Lori, why don’t you go first? When you find somebody, there’s a client maybe, a prospect and you find out that someone that you know… Let’s talk about it from two perspectives. Someone that you know well, like me, and maybe somebody that you’re loosely connected to. Maybe you’ve had some periphery type of relationships. Talk a little bit about your comfort level in asking. Then, Jeffrey, I’m interested in your thoughts as well.
Lori Saitz: If it was somebody that I knew well, I would feel completely comfortable saying, “Hey, Fred, I’ve been looking to get into this company. Could you introduce me to this person?” And you know that I’m going to make it a conversation about how I can help them, not just go in and say, “Hey, want to buy my thing?” If it was somebody that I didn’t know all that well, I would have the same kind of conversation. “I’m looking to meet some people in here. I saw that you’re connected to this person. Do you feel comfortable introducing me?”
Fred Diamond: Jeffrey, how about you? What’s your comfort level and how would you go about it as well?
Jeffrey Englander: Lori made some great points. In addition to that, what I would do is I would go back to the requester and say, “What are you looking for?” And again, have a conversation with them. If Lori were to say, “Jeff, I see John Smith is in your network.” Lori, not a problem here, boom, and make it happen. I love making introductions. If I don’t know the person, then I would just have a conversation with them at least digitally. Understand what they’re looking for and this way, I can be smarter about the introduction to the person.
Fred Diamond: We have a question that comes in from Dana, “Will Zoom continue or should we start pushing all of our networking meetings in person?” Again, we’re doing today’s interview in the middle of February 2022, so let’s talk about that for a second. I’m in Florida now and like I might have mentioned, everybody’s out. I’ve seen some masks. Should we be at the comfort level of going back to meeting people at Starbucks and Panera? What do you think, should we still try to get as many Zoom calls in? I’m curious on where you think that’s going to go. Jeffrey, why don’t you go first?
Jeffrey Englander: Sure. In fact, I got a great example. I met up with a friend of mine, networking friend, I haven’t seen him in three years. I haven’t talked to him. Just by accident, we bumped into each other on LinkedIn and next thing I know, we have a lunch together next week in Tyson’s at that Silver Diners. The point is this, it’s somebody I haven’t talked to in three years, he was a good friend, lost the relationship and now we’re reconnecting. I also want to mention that I belong to another networking group and we’re trying to do something hybrid. When we were doing things live, it was local in Tyson’s Corner. Obviously, when we went to Zoom, we went from local to global and now, we really can’t drop those people outside of DC so why don’t we try to do things hybrid? We go to the venue, but we bring our technology and we see how it works. First time it didn’t go so well, but that’s the way it is. You try and you try again to make it perfect.
Fred Diamond: For people listening in that aren’t familiar, Tyson’s Corner is one of the business areas of the metropolitan DC area, a very common place to network. Lori, how about you? Are you fully in with meeting people or do you still have the comfort level? The great thing about working from home is you can knock out like 5 or 6 Zoom meetings in a row and maybe there’s some degree of Zoom fatigue. But for networking, I’m not quite sure. I’m interested in your thoughts.
Lori Saitz: I am done with Zoom. Can I get out of my apartment, please? I am so ready and I have been talking to people face to face, meeting with people pretty much the whole time if other people were comfortable. I’ve been comfortable with it the entire two years because I believe in living your life and not being afraid of everything. I don’t want to demean other people, that’s not what I’m doing. I’m saying, do what feels comfortable for you. Going back to when I was teaching networking strategies, humans are wired to connect interpersonally. This is why the past two years has been so difficult for people, because they haven’t been able to interact interpersonally in the way that we are humanly wired to do.
Fred Diamond: We have a follow-up question that comes in from Karen. Since we’re talking a little bit about networking on Zoom here, Karen’s question is, “How do you deal with people who don’t want to do video on Zoom? If they don’t open their video, how do you think this affects relationship building?” Let’s talk about that for a second. When you’re building this relationship, not that you want to be so vulnerable that you talk about your childhood trauma, but at the same time, you want to get to the point where there’s comfort level. So many words that we talked about over the last two years, authenticity, transparency, integrity. People are still going to be using Zoom because we’re comfortable with it, even though we know people are going to start going out like we just talked about. Lori, why don’t you go first on how to best utilize Zoom to build these relationships or other types of web video technology? Jeffrey, I’m interested in your thoughts as well to really optimize the 15, 20, 30 minutes you’re going to spend on Zoom.
Lori Saitz: It comes back to that face-to-face connection. There is some exchange of energy through a camera. If you’re on a Zoom call and you don’t want to get on camera, let’s say you’re not having technical issues, you just don’t want to, I have an issue with that. You want to do a phone call, you want to go old-school, I’m all about that. If you don’t want to get on camera, then let’s do a phone call. Sitting in front of a screen without having your camera on does not make any sense to me.
Fred Diamond: Jeff?
Jeffrey Englander: I second everything Lori just said. I think that the reason for Zoom is really to have video conferencing. If you want to meet someone, Zoom is the next best thing when you have video versus sitting across the table. I encourage everyone to use their video. Obviously, there’s technical issues and you have to drop the video but you want to remain, that’s one thing. But if you’re good with technical, turn on the camera and let’s have a nice conversation face to face even though we’re hundreds of miles away.
Fred Diamond: Jeffrey, I want to ask you another question. If people are still uncomfortable with networking, there are organizations that you can join. Obviously, there’s the Institute for Excellence in Sales, today’s host, but there are some that are really just about networking like Business Networking International, BNI, and some others that you can physically pay if you’re uncomfortable in developing your network. Even if you’re a star, it may add some value. Jeffrey and then Lori, talk about your advice on if people should join things where you have to physically pay to have the opportunity to network.
Jeffrey Englander: The best networking opportunities I’ve been involved with for the last two years, most of them have come from referrals. I talk to people in my network and say, “What are you doing?” I’ve been invited to several because I reach out to my network and they make recommendations. Someone was just in a Lunch Club, I think is what it’s called, just invited me to Lunch Club and I’ve been having some great conversations with folks here in the DC area and elsewhere. Also too is this. Here’s something that I think is really cool, because thanks to Zoom, we can go global. If you happen to be in Sydney, Australia right now, I would just do a quick search on networking in New York City and see what comes up. If there’s an event organizer, reach out to them and say, “Can I join?”
Fred Diamond: Lori, how about you? Obviously, you both are ambassadors of the Institute for Excellence in Sales, thank you. But what is your suggestion for people who are uncomfortable? Should they pay to join things like some of the ones we mentioned?
Lori Saitz: Yes. Lunch Club is free, actually, and Lunch Club is an awesome tool. You need to have clear objectives. Why are you joining a specific organization? Because every one of them has its own personality and has its own personalities within it. Most of them let you come once or twice as a guest to check it out, I would do that and see if it’s a good fit and again, be clear on what is it that you want to get out of the organization. The wrong answer to that question is, “I just want to get clients” because again, we’re building relationships. You need to be getting into an organization that suits who you are. I’m a member of this amazing networking organization called Success Champions Network and it’s a specific type of person who fits, not everybody is for everyone.
Fred Diamond: My recommendation also is start your own. I went to work for myself in 2002 as a Marketing Consultant and I started my own group which eventually led to the Institute for Excellence in Sales and I made it a point to bring in people who I knew were more successful than me, who were also out there in the community networking. Talking about building clients and relationships, I remember I once did an analysis of the people in the group, how valuable were they to me from a get-me-clients perspective and it came down to three people in the group accounted for almost 75% of the business I had gotten. The other 20, 30 some odd people were all, for the most part, either good friends or resources or people I could just talk to about a business challenge. I encourage people to go start their own.
Lori, last question for you. We talk about the concept of following up all the time. One of the great failures of unsuccessful salespeople is that they don’t follow up. I use this stat all the time, Steve Richard, a guy whose company analyzed millions of phone calls, he said the one trend they noticed time and time again was the lack of a next step, lack of follow-up. Talk a little bit about how people can be more effective in the follow-up notion as it relates to networking.
Lori Saitz: It comes back to you’re building long-term relationships, so you have to go in with the mindset that you need to develop and nurture this relationship. I was just on a call yesterday with someone who was talking about a guy she met 10 years ago through a networking organization. He was at the time an HR person within a company in Atlanta, and now he’s the founder of an international company with thousands of employees in Chicago. He called her with a large order because he’d been paying attention to what she was doing on LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great way to maintain connections, not just to make connections but to maintain connections with people that you actually meet in person or at networking events. People are paying attention there to what you’re posting, so you need to be posting and engaging as well.
Fred Diamond: A lot of times people network, they’re confident in what they bring to the market and then if you meet somebody one time, that’s just a blip. I had this observation during the pandemic where I was talking to a friend of mine and I said to myself, we had this conversation and we’ve actually done business. “You and I have had probably close to 200 interactions over the 20 years that I’ve known you. We’ve been at networking events together,” her daughter was an intern for me once, there’s this long list of things. It wasn’t like we met once at a networking event. The same thing, Jeffrey, I’m thinking about you, we’ve had dozens if not hundreds of interactions, some heart-to-heart talks about our children and Bruce Springsteen, Equestrian and all those kinds of things. Lori, again, you did the intro for my podcast for at least a hundred episodes right before the pandemic. Think about the relationship bank, so to speak, it really is an investment that you’re making.
I want to acknowledge you both. You guys are out there, Jeffrey and Lori, you’re making connections, you’re bringing people together, I see you out there on social media as well offering ideas and I want to applaud you both on how well you do that. We like to end every show, although you’ve given us dozens of great ideas, with your final action steps. Jeffrey, why don’t you go first? Give us something specific people listening to today’s podcast or watching should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.
Jeffrey Englander: LinkedIn has a great offering or option. That is to download your connections to your Dropbox, PC or wherever you go. What you should do is take a look at the file. It takes about 10, 20 minutes for LinkedIn to send it to you, they’ll process your request and send you an email. Then what you do is take a look at that file. I want you to take a look at that file pretty good and I want you to come up with five people that you haven’t connected with in over two years. You have all these people in your connections, who haven’t you talked to in two years that you already know? Reach out to them this afternoon. Pick up the phone. If you can’t reach them by phone, send them an email, but reach out to them.
Fred Diamond: Karen says thank you for the great conversation. Richard says, thank you very much, Lori and Jeffrey. Marla says, thank you so much. Lori, why don’t you bring us home? Give us something specific people should do right now to take their sales career to the next level.
Lori Saitz: Because I teach gratitude and meditation to sales teams to help their success, this might sound a little woo-woo, but hang in with me. Visualize the kinds of connections that you want to bring into your network. Do a little visualization, setting and intention. We talked about this a little bit ago. Visualize the kinds of conversations you would like to have and feel gratitude for them as if they have already happened. If people are feeling a little hesitant about the whole idea of networking, I have a networking meditation. It’s five minutes. If you want to reach out and connect with me on LinkedIn or send me an email, I’m happy to share that with you.
Fred Diamond: I’ve actually listened to your networking meditation and it’s fabulous.
Transcribed by Mariana Badillo