The key to effective networking and how to build lasting professional referral relationships.
Professional people who are charged with growing their business potential will typically do the rounds of various networking groups and make judgement calls on which of those groups suit them best. It is routine for us to attend these events armed with a number of business cards and promo material and we will of course engage in conversation to add value to our trip. No surprises there then, but we should consider who we will talk to, and why, with much more focus…
I want to share with you three important tips for effective networking which will essentially enhance your tool kit for growth.
1. Think in layers. Sometimes it is not the person in the room who will bring referrals to your business but how will you know who their contacts are if you don’t engage with them? Potentially it is their contacts who will bring business your way. For example, think about the diverse client base an accountant will have. You have no idea who these people are, but you can talk to the accountant in the first instance.
It is therefore vital to you to make sure the person in the room knows who you are, what you do, and how you could help their client base. Be specific about your unique selling points and don’t waffle. When I am driving to a networking event, in preparation, I typically think about the services my business offers. I categorise the benefits of Williams Performance Coaching and keep these to the front of my mind. I also consider anything topical in the marketplace or any current news which will be of relevance to a business group which will be of benefit to them. My first tip is therefore to think in layers : a) don’t prejudge who you will approach for the first time in a networking room. b) Pace yourself and listen! The single most important communication skill is listening. Nobody respects a person who likes the sound of their own voice. Showing real interest in what the person is saying will help you to engage better. c)Make sure you contribute something interesting which will be of value to them. Networking is not about just taking your slice of the cake. You have to bake it first!
2. Develop trust. Remember that you are looking to develop a cultural and commercially viable match with your selected new relationships. Your new contact will not be ready to refer you to his top clients readily, and you will not be prepared to recommend him/her either, until you develop trust. Being aware of this fact will greatly assist your long term strategy for development. My second tip is to therefore nurture each new lead with respect and understanding anddevelop trust. Trust will naturally evolve over time, but there are ways to fast track this important aspect of referral relationships. It is important to understand what happens next after that initial coffee catch up and how to avoid wasting valuable time. If you are interested in learning more about this, please drop me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. Understand your position in the marketplace. Where do you sit? You are not alone if you struggle to answer this question. If you want to engage with people and develop referral business to each other for mutual commercial benefit, you need to properly identify the companies who fit best with yours. Therefore positioning yourself to the degree that your description of your position simply rolls off the tongue will win rewards.My third tip for this post is therefore tounderstand your position. I can help you with this…
Nationwide Breakfast Meetings coming soon! Our businesses flourish by feeding them with the essential ingredients for growth and we all need a grounded understanding of how liaise with the right people in the right way. The easiest way to keep your day job moving and apportion some valuable time to growing your business is to attend the right type of breakfast meeting.
I have developed a model for building effective referral relationships and I will soon be launching a series of focused breakfast meetings to address the subject of networking itself. These will be held across the country at various locations, and will cover all of the elements mentioned above, plus some key ingredients to help you engage smarter.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post and I hope you found it useful.