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Networking in Sales: The 101 for Building Quality Connections

Networking in sales is arguably one of the most valuable skills you must master as a medical sales rep. After all, expanding your network is a guaranteed way to land the next big client. But networking is also important to advance your career in numerous personal ways.

As a sales rep, you spend much of your time working independently. The autonomy and flexibility of your job allows you to find work-life balance, but there’s not much opportunity for nurturing meaningful relationships with other professionals in your industry. As friendly as your clients are, the relationships you create with customers are about meeting their patients’ needs and closing the sale. You should be concerned about establishing a similar level of trust and respect among your peers.

Making and maintaining quality connections in your medical sales circle requires creating a strategy to build productive and efficient networking habits. Fortunately, we pulled together a 101 for networking in sales to cut some of the guesswork out.

Why you need to keep quality connections in medical sales

This could be as short and sweet as “because you do.” But the bottom line is, you’re unlikely to stay in your sales role or even company indefinitely. Networking in sales is a logical step forward in your career.

You also learn a great deal through the experiences of your sales peers and mentors. You can use what you pick up in brief conversations or through sharing industry news and trends to develop your sales skills. For example, you can learn from other people’s sales strategies, or gain insight into different medical products and markets. 

Most importantly, by sharing your knowledge and experience, you gain the trust, respect, and confidence of sales reps who could refer you for your next big promotion or career opportunity. Referrals are a great way to get your foot in the door of the next best medical sales company to work at.

Who you should be connecting with

It’s important you get out there and meet people but you’ll burn yourself out if you’re trying to network with everyone. You need to be deliberate about the connections you make. Keep in mind, you’re not just looking for people who will boost your career. You want to make sure you’re learning from others and can offer them similar value. This is about creating meaningful relationships.

Look through your various social media feeds for people who regularly post content that inspires you. You may notice shares from current co-workers, your college alumni, or through professional groups you follow. Their posts should be relevant to your industry, products, or developing certain skills when you’re networking in sales.

Where you can make the most meaningful connections

LinkedIn is a well-known platform for making professional connections. But the key is to use it correctly. You’re not likely to get a positive response if you jump into LinkedIn and start soliciting strangers for connections. Instead, try using the ‘People You May Know’ under the My Network feature. This allows you to confirm similar connections, colleges, companies, etc.

Facebook groups are becoming increasingly popular for professionals as well. Engaging on content and posting in groups is a great way to connect with people in your industry. Keep in mind that Facebook is also a social media platform for personal connections so you may not want to send and accept friend requests with everyone. Be sure to lock down any images and personal information you don’t want to share if you decide to communicate beyond the professional groups you join.

What you should be saying 

The most important thing to remember when networking in sales is to keep the ‘sales pitch’ for your clients. Your conversation shouldn’t be transactional in tone. The emphasis should be on building authentic relationships.

It may be tricky to start a conversation with people you don’t know online. If you’ve been following their posts, a great icebreaker could be sharing content you’ve recently found value in that aligns with themes they typically post on. 

If you’re specifically interested in the company they work for or products they sell, focus on asking about what they love about their job or the clients they serve rather than digging for information on their company right away. You can get a feel for their company culture, values, and the impact you could make to be sure everything aligns before asking more general corporate questions.

How to get the most out of your networking relationships

Above all, be sure you open up and share about yourself, your goals and accomplishments, and company as well. Be transparent and build trust as you get to know your new professional connections. The best way to grow your network is to be an asset.

Regularly share industry trends and valuable sales tips and information to help advance other’s careers alongside your own. Sales is a fiercely competitive industry, but you have the same overarching goal in medical sales: to make a difference in the world. Working together to get medical devices and drugs to improve the quality of life of those who need them is a shared objective everyone benefits from.