Steve was a “good chamber member” by all accounts. He came to all of the functions; socialized with people he knew and always met the new members. He had been a member of the chamber for a number of years, so when the other members heard that he was not going to rejoin they seemed confused.
“Steve, I hear you’re not rejoining. What’s up?” “Well I have met some good friends and gotten some referrals but I feel like I should be getting more. I mean, I come to everything, I meet people, and I always tell them all about what I do.”
Does this sound familiar? Often when we join organizations, we think just being a member is enough. Even in Steve’s case he knew that he had to do more so he did. That should have worked right? Wrong!
The reason Steve focused on the referrals he’s getting is because he didn’t understand that building business through referral is about giving referrals, not getting them. Learning how to network is a skill. A skill is something we learn. There is truly a system for getting more referrals and poor Steve was just “winging it.”
Building relationships is the key to networking. The philosophy is “givers gain®"*. When we learn how to give to others we will sell more business.
There are some keys that will help you with this process. I have outlined a few:
1) How are you introducing yourself? When you are at a networking function you are competing with everyone else in that room to be remembered. “Hi I’m John and I’m a financial consultant”. The typical response will be, “Oh, that’s nice” (interpretation – I have no earthly idea of exactly what that means). It is important to help someone understand what you do in relation to him or her. Try, “Hi, I’m John. I teach people what to do to ensure early retirement” or “I help people play more golf and travel more often.” Sound different? Well isn’t that the point?!
2) What questions are you asking about them? Though others seem interested in what we do, really, they’re most interested in how it relates to them.
I can explain this best in a story.
About 8 years ago, my mom was telling me about her new friend Nancy. “Oh Greta, you have to meet Nancy, she’s terrific, she’s wonderful…” So, that Christmas eve we go to my mom’s house for a party. I walk in and I see this woman I don’t know with a big smile on her face come toward me. I said, “You must be Nancy.” “And you must be Greta,” she says. “I have heard so much about you. Your son is so well mannered, do tell me how you’ve done so well?” As I am dropping Christmas gifts on the floor to engage in conversation, she continues, “and your new home, I hear it’s beautiful, tell me about your decorating plans…” After a lengthy discussion about my favorite subject – me – I walked into the kitchen and said, “Oh mom, you’re right. I met Nancy and she’s terrific!”
It was much later I realized that I knew nothing about her, yet she impressed me. Why? hmmm, because she was talking about me perhaps?!
3) Create a picture. People see in pictures. Create a scenario in which they can see themselves. A chiropractor might say, “The next time you are playing golf and the ball goes one way and your back goes another, that’s when you call me”.
4) Ask the big question. The big question is one that will differentiate you for sure. Here it is:
“What would be a good referral for you?”
Simple. Yet it?s all about them. It is the reason they have come. They will then ask about you and your business. More about how to handle that later.
These are a few of the skills that will help you be a better net worker. Remember, it’s not net eat, it’s not net sit, it’s network.
*Givers Gain is a registered trademark of my friend and Founder of BNI, Dr Ivan Misner.
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