So often, I see people who are frustrated about not getting more business referred to them. After all, they say, isn’t that what business networking is all about?
What many of these people don’t seem to realize, however, is that they need to actively share information (5 key things, in particular) about themselves with the right people before they can expect to have business referred to them by the people in others’ networks.
The fact is, it’s not enough that you’re great at what you do and can offer a lot of value to new clients. To win referrals from networking, you need to ensure that your contacts have all the necessary information about you and your skills so they can go out and persuade third parties to come and purchase your product or service. It’s amazing how many people fail to recognize this.
There are actually five key things that are essential for the members of your network to know about you before you can expect them to refer business your way. Equally, you need to know these same five things about them so you can reciprocate.
I call this process of reciprocal sharing of information the GAINS exchange, based on the first letter of each of the five essential informational points—Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills:
- Goals: What are the objectives that are important to you; what are the problems you want to solve? Not just financial and business goals, but also personal and educational objectives.
- Accomplishments: What big projects have you completed in business or as an employee? What are your accomplishments as a student or parent?
- Interests: What are the things you really enjoy doing? The music you like to listen to, the hobbies you spend time on, the sports you like to play or watch? People are more willing to spend time with people they share interests with.
- Networks: Each of your contacts is a part of many networks. Do you know what these are, how big they are? Each of us has the potential to connect with hundreds or thousands of people if we cultivate these resources.
- Skills: What do you do especially well? What are the professional areas in which you excel? Don’t be afraid to share this information with your contacts, and learn about the talents and abilities of the people in your network as well.
These are not mysterious pieces of information. They are facts we are exposed to every day, if we look for them.
By remembering the GAINS exchange, you can make sure you don’t overlook this essential information about your networking contacts. Is there an additional piece of information you make a habit of giving and getting when it comes to networking relationships? If so, what is it and how have you found it to be effective? I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences so please share your feedback in the comment forum below—thanks!