Lately, I’ve observed a few networking blunders occurring that have reminded me of the importance of what Tony Allessandra calls the Platinum Rule. Most of us are familiar with the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), but to network effectively, you’ve got to be relationship-based, so you need to use the Platinum Rule–not only with your referral source, but also with the prospect.
There are three people involved in a referral: 1. You. You need to know how you work best and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. 2. The referral source. How does this person like to communicate? How does he like to be treated? If you want him to help you, you’ve got to treat him the way he wants to be treated. 3. The prospect. How does the prospect like to be sold to? What’s the best way to communicate with the prospect?
Strive to be adaptable and accommodate the behavioral style of your source when you’re working with him or her, and of your prospect when you’ve been put in touch with him. If you seek to find out how people want to be treated and then treat them that way, you won’t make the mistake of assuming everyone likes the same things you do. Looking for a fast way to destroy a budding relationship? Assume that your client or referral partner enjoys deep-sea fishing as avidly as you do and insist that he come along on your next Old Man and the Sea adventure. Then watch as he turns green and hugs the rail of the boat the entire day.
By learning about the other person’s goals, accomplishments, interests, networks and skills, you can establish the groundwork for a smooth-running referral relationship from the start. All of these factors together will tell you the best way to communicate and what to talk about.