I’m John Barrows and This is How I (Net)Work
Bio (100 words): John Barrows currently provides sales training and consulting services to some of the world’s leading companies like Salesforce.com, LinkedIn, Zenefits, Box and many others.
His previous experience spans all aspects of sales at every level from making 400 cold calls a week to doing inside sales to running sales as a VP for his first startup and selling it to Staples.
He’s an active sales professional who has learned a lot about what works and doesn’t work in sales and loves sharing the tips and techniques he has found to have had an impact along the way. His main goal is to improve the overall education and quality of sales by sharing ideas and techniques that work.
Location: Boston, MA
Current Role: Owner, jbarrows Consulting
Why do you network?
Networking is one of the best ways to build your confidence, practice your pitch and increase your influence and reach. It’s not direct selling so it’s easier to try different things when reaching out to people and figure out what works to get their attention. Similar to your pitch.
When someone asks “what do you do” and you tell them, it’s pretty evident whether or not they get it based on their reaction and desire to take the next steps with you.
Also, networking is one of the most valuable things you can do in your sales career since you never know who you will come across, what they will need or how you can add value to them throughout your career.
How has networking changed?
Technology, specifically LinkedIn, has fundamentally changed the way we network. The main change is how specific we can get with who we want to network with and reach out to.
Before LinkedIn, you would usually have to go to an event and introduce yourself to as many people as possible, looking for someone who you could work with. Now, I can profile the exact person I want to connect with and connect with them directly.
What hasn’t changed about networking, is that it’s still more about giving than getting. The more value you add to others the more will come back to you.
What is your networking philosophy?
Give, give, give and ‘what goes around comes around’. If I always focus on adding value to others and making introductions that will benefit them, it will always come back to me in the long run.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received about networking or business relationships?
Always be networking. You should always be networking and looking for ways to add value to others. The biggest mistake people make is they only really start networking when they need something and when that happens it’s very transparent and people don’t react well.
If you’re always networking and trying to add value, it’s much easier to ask for help from the people you have been working with.
How do you start building trust with key people in your network?
Always focus on doing something for them first and go out of your way for them as often as possible.
Also make it easy for them to work with you. Make sure you are crystal clear on what type of introductions you are looking for and what your unique value is.
The easier you make it for them to make introductions for you, the more they will make.
Can you recall a “magical networking” moment that had a major impact on your life or career?
When I started my business career I joined a local chapter of Business Networking International (BNI) which provided an excellent structure for me when it came to networking and how I should approach it. We met weekly and shared leads with the group. Their motto was Givers Gain.
I spent many years in that group and always tried to give more than I got. When I went off on my own to start a new company I needed a bunch of business services to get my company off the ground fast (legal, contracts, accounting, payroll, etc.).
Each one of those services was one phone call away to a trusted partner who went out of their way to help me out. I had a fully functional business set up within a week for almost no money.
What apps, software, tools and/or social media sites do you use to grow and nurture your network?
LinkedIn – The obvious one, but I don’t use it as well as I should for networking. I use it more to make connections and do prep/research on people before I meet them.
Event Calendars – I do the majority of what I consider ‘networking’ at events and seminars. I look for events that attract my target audience (customers and partners) and go to as many of them as I can.
I prep for these events by researching the people I want to meet, understanding my goals and making sure I can bring some value to the table for each of them.
What networking habits do you wish you would have started earlier in your career?
A structured approach with goal setting. When I first started in business, I just went to as many events, joined as many groups and met as many people as I could. I soon learned I needed a more structured approach – but I wish I knew sooner.
Now I have a specific profile of who I know I can get value from and give value to, I don’t waste my time on people or partnerships that aren’t mutually beneficial and I set goals for my networking approach to drive specific results.
I’d love to see ____ answer these networking questions.
Response: “A Millennial”
According to Dunbar’s theory, we can only manage 150 meaningful (or strong) relationships at a time. How many strong relationships do you have in your network?
I would say I have around 30 relationships that I would consider strong and another 50+ I would consider good.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Don’t expect anyone to give you anything. If you want something go out and get it. People always ask me what the secret to my success has been and I always give the same answer – working my ass off. Make it happen!