Business people at a social event Relationships are perhaps the most important marketing tool in nearly every industry. While it’s certainly important to master your craft, there’s a ton of truth to that saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” especially when it comes to sales. Making a conscious effort to get out and meet people can be time-consuming and even awkward sometimes, but it’s crucial to connect with like-minded individuals in order to be successful and advance your career.

Networking is important. Really important. And as a salesperson, it’s an inherent part of your job. Here’s why:

New connections. By definition, networking is done to meet new people, exchange information, and develop contacts. Attending events or joining networking organizations allows you to meet and develop relationships with influential people in your industry. You are able to learn from the experiences of others and even get advice when you need it. Networking allows you to tap into the networks of other people and can open many doors to new opportunities.

Positive Influence. Attending networking events puts you in a position where you are surrounded by people who are excited about your industry. These people likely share the same goals and values as you do and will motivate you to be successful. Attitudes are infectious, so it’s important to hang out with those who bring a positive and uplifting point of view to the table.

Increased visibility. By networking (and networking frequently) you’re making yourself known by your peers and community. By becoming a familiar face, you’re building a reputation and showing others that you are invested in your industry. People tend to associate these kinds of people with desirable attributes like knowledge, expertise, and support.

Increased confidence. We should probably start out by saying that if you’re not a generally confident person, a career in sales probably isn’t for you. However, everyone can always work on themselves, and networking is a good way to facilitate growth. Every time you go to a business or social event and push yourself to talk to people you don’t know, you’re building your confidence. This growing confidence will not only make conversation with new people come more naturally, it’ll translate into sales.

Lead/referral generation. For a salesperson, this is probably the most important benefit of networking. Attending networking activities is a great way to talk to others about your company and explain how you can help them. You may turn some of these people into clients, and if not, they’ll likely send others your way. Another benefit is that these leads are often more high-quality (people who are serious about doing business with you) than leads you may generate elsewhere.

Networking is one of the most underrated and effective ways to meet people, market, and become successful. Remember that networking is about forming relationships, not just selling. If you take the time to get to know others in your industry and talk to them as people rather than numbers, the sales will come naturally.