Public sector networking 101
Networking is a vital part of any sales strategy, especially when it comes to selling to gov! Here's our advice on networking with the public sector.
Networking, whether you love or loathe it, is part of a successful sales strategy – and, if you aren’t doing it, you should be. Many partnerships and deals start by the exchanging of business cards or connecting on LinkedIn, and the public sector is no different. People buy from people after all!
Attend the right events
Everyone has a busy schedule and taking time out of the office to attend an all-day conference can be difficult for some people. Whilst no connection is ever a wasted connection, ideally you want to be attending events that are relevant to your industry and company growth aims. Select public sector events with relevant talks and topics to either your product or service. This will allow you to gauge interest and scan the audience for attendees to follow-up with later. Another top tip is to position yourself by the bar or near the coffee stand, as this is usually peoples’ first stop when they enter the room. This will allow you to strike up conversations as soon as people arrive.
Do your homework on the delegates
No, we don’t mean find out their favourite colour or what they are watching on Netflix. Look on LinkedIn, see if you might have any mutual connections or even mutual clients or partners. This will help you find some common ground and start the conversation off on the right foot. Find out if someone you want to meet has written any articles or blogs recently and come with questions, this will lead to a more engaging and hopefully fruitful conversation. But, remember to show consideration for people’s time. Often public sector speakers will have taken only a few hours to speak at an event and they don’t charge for their time. If you want to talk to them, be mindful they might not have the time for a lengthy conversation right then. Ask them for their contact details or even social media handle so you can pick up the discussion later.
Listen and ask questions
If you take nothing else from this blog, take this: LISTEN! We’ve all been there awkwardly holding a coffee and milling around in an event break, overhearing someone chewing off strangers’ ears about how great their product is and not letting anyone get a word in edge ways. Networking does not mean free reign to pitch your product to every person in the room. Networking is about fact finding; who the person is, what they do and maybe if there is scope for working together. Public sector buyers look to their suppliers to provide a solution to their problems and not a product, networking is a brilliant way to find out what these problems are and optimise your sales and marketing. It isn’t all about lead generation!
Take the stack of business cards you’ve collected and set aside time to connect on social media. Although it’s optional, taking the time to write a personal message alongside your connection request shows you valued your meeting and increases your chances of your request being accepted.
Building relationships with public sector buyers should be a vital part of your sales strategy and your win strategy when you start bidding for tenders. So, get out there and get networking!