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These days, networking IS sales... agree?

At a recent workshop, Doug Bain of Growtheorem, a consultancy in sales management, stated that as far as he could see, getting in front of a prospect at a big company requires either (1) a personal introduction from someone the prospect already trusts, or (2) a major initiative in industry-leading content: articles in major publications, popular books or blogs which cause the prospect to contact us. Cold calling, trade shows, direct mail:  all kaput. 

The contemporary business scene has so many contact spigots wide open that we are all overwhelmed with people trying to do business with us. Hardly anyone wants to connect to someone who hasn't already been vetted either by the media or by a colleague. 

HBR Blogs: The Freelance Economy Still Runs on Word of Mouth, 2014-Oct-9 by Justin Fox

When we interviewed people, what they told us was, “Well, networking is sales now. It used to be different, but …”

Even when you’re talking about moving to these online systems like Elance-oDesk, your reputation becomes so important, and your reputation is a function of your network. And I have to add when I started in tech, networks weren’t that important. If you had a good idea, you could get a hearing, and you could get funded, and you could build a business. Quite honestly today if you don’t have access to a network that gets you introduced, you can be brilliant and get nowhere.

Why would that be more so?

It’s just gotten so much bigger. There’s so much going on, and at this point there are key gatekeepers and key people that you need to get to. The industry used to be a lot smaller, and you could meet people at shows, or you could just cold call them and they’d answer the phone, and that stuff just doesn’t happen anymore.