>There is nothing hard about networking or sales; both are basically simple tasks to perform. But to be effective at networking and sales – now that takes some skill. To be effective I like to say is simple but it is not easy.

If you want to be effective at networking (and to be effective I mean have the ability to identify prospects and ultimately turn those prospects into clients) you must first understand the basics.

Rule number one in networking is identify with whom you want and are trying to network. You have to know whom you are looking for. Why? here’s a newsflash – not everyone wants to buy your product or service. Not everyone can benefit from, pay for, or has a need for your product. Your job as a master networker is to clearly understand they type of client you stand the best chance of building a relationship with.

If you sat down right now and analyzed your perfect customer – I mean really analyzed your perfect customer – you would find that description fits a very distinctive niche. There are unique and specific things about the individual. The better you know, understand and can describe this niche the better you will be able to identify who truly wants what you are selling. And imagine a sales process where you spend the majority of your time in front of and working with prospects that want, need and desire what you are selling!

Defining your target market is a fun exercise. Think about things like gender (do you appeal more to men or women) age, hobbies (what does your target market like to do), geographic location, their interests, what they like about you; what is important to them, their values, what motivates or drives them etc.. There is no end to what you can identify – magazines they like to read, movies they like to see, products they like to buy. Gather as much as you can and find out what your ideal clients have in common. The better you know, understand and can describe your niche the better you will be able to identify the type of customer who truly wants what you are selling.

I have a client who is a master at this. Every quarter she updates her Target Market description – constantly tweaking, changing and adding information to her client data. She knows her ideal clients are successful men, between the ages of 45 and 55, who are professionally driven, well educated (master degrees and above), athletic and dedicated to physical fitness, married with high school and college aged children; demanding, value success, their reputation and their families; looking to continue to advance in their careers and chosen professions; and they will choose slowing down rather than retirement; they hire her for her reputation for effectiveness, accountability, and drive.

Where does she network? Professional associations and sporting events – those she can participate in as her potential clients are active. Her prospects are dedicated to advancing in their careers, so they attend meetings, are continuously seeking knowledge and enjoy networking among their own peers. They are also active, and by participating in these events she has a very natural way to meet, connect and build natural relationships with her prospects. She also understands why they choose her – her effectiveness, accountability and drive. So when making new proposals she makes sure to emphasize those qualities. Needless to say, even in a tough economy she has a thriving practice and constant flow of new business.

Knowing this she is able to shape her networking and prospecting efforts to events, organizations and referral connections that put her right in front of the very prospect that is most likely to hire her.

If you want to be effective at networking. If you want to get results. Then you must first understand who is the type of customer you want to attract. What do they look like, what do they do, what do they value and why do they choose you? This is rule number one if you want to turn your prospects into clients!