Are-Referrals-Always-Reciprocal

Are Referrals Always Reciprocal?string(32) "Are Referrals Always Reciprocal?"

Some people think about business networking as a game of Who is giving what to whom, always wondering how they can score more.  I caution those people that there is no rule that says, “For every referral you give, you can expect one in return.” Similarly, when you hand out more referrals, it does not mean that other business professionals will automatically do the same. It just doesn’t work that way in referral marketing. A referral is not always reciprocal.

Effective business networking is about building deep relationships with referral partners. Entrepreneurs who focus on giving first and asking “What can I do to help you?” instead of “What’s in it for me?” are usually more successful in their networking efforts.

Talk to Them

If you find that you are giving someone a lot of referrals and you are not getting anything in return, the first thing to do is to sit down with them. Be tactful and respectful. Rather than saying, “I have given you all of these referrals. How come you have not given any to me?” you can instead sit down with them and review all the business referrals you have given them in a way that shows you care about their success. Remember, it is not an interrogation: “Hey, I have given you this. I have given you that.” It is a conversation.

A good way to start the conversation is like this. “I think I have given you three referrals this year. I want to talk about how they worked out for you. I gave you this one to the ABC Company. How was that referral? Oh, that turned into business for you? What did you think of working with that person?”

Ask them how each and every referral you’ve given worked out for them. Discuss one at a time and thoroughly review that referral; ask questions about what transpired after you gave it to them. This is important. Make sure that the referrals you gave were as good as you think they were. Don’t make assumptions about them. You may have thought it was platinum and it turned out to be dirt.

Sometimes we find out that none of the referrals worked out. They may not have worked out because they were not quite as good as you thought. If they didn’t turn out as well as you thought that they would, talk about it. Ask them how you could improve in giving them quality referrals. And then listen to what they say!

By the way, that is a good question to ask even if the referrals did work out. “I am really glad that the referrals worked out. How could I improve in giving you additional quality referrals?” This is all part of building and strengthening the relationship.

How to Talk About You

After you have invested the time to talk about each referral you’ve given AND you find that all the referrals you gave to your networking partner were good and beneficial for them, you can tell them how glad you are that you were able to help them.
Then and ONLY then, do you say this:
“I am pleased that the referrals worked out for you; that is what our networking group is all about- supporting one another and giving each other referrals.” Then you can say that sending business referrals your way would be helpful to you, too. Ask if they have a few minutes now to talk about how they could find good referrals to give to you.

This is a genuine, caring, and calm conversation that comes from the intention of helping someone else. It is not based on assumptions or filled with accusations that may put someone on the defensive.

If you discover those referrals you gave didn’t work out, then I wouldn’t even go down the road of asking for reciprocal referrals. I would ask, if those didn’t work out, how can I do a better job for you? If you are doing business with someone who truly believes in Givers Gain®, they are going to ask the same of you.

Be Realistic

I am a realist. If there is someone in your business networking group that refuses to give you referrals, I can understand why you might not want to continue to refer them. However, that is rarely the case.

Remember – effective networking is about being relational, not transactional. What goes around comes around. And – it might not even come around from where you sent it. Sometimes you give a referral one place and receive a referral from someplace else. You might be getting referrals from people who you have never given a referral to.

We also want to be mindful of the value of the referrals. If we are talking about a florist and a real estate agent, the real estate agent is probably going to give the florist a whole lot more referrals than the florist is going to give to them. Although one good referral to the agent could be worth a lot of flowers for the florist. Keep in mind that it is not just the quantity, it is the quality, and the value of the referrals. All of these things have to go into the consideration.

As professionals, we must have these conversations with our networking partners. Only when you do, and find out that the referrals have, in fact, been good, can you then say, “I would love for you to be able to reciprocate if possible. Do you have time to talk about how you might be able to give referrals to me?”

The Power of the VCP Process®string(30) "The Power of the VCP Process®"

The VCP Process is the foundation of everything I teach about business networking.
It is why we go to networking events. We don’t go to networking events to “sell,” we go to those events to work our way through the VCP Process.

What is VCP?

The key concept in referral marketing is relationships – mutually beneficial relationships.
However, these relationships don’t just spring up full grown; they must be cultivated and nurtured. As they grow and develop, they evolve through three phases: Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability. The VCP Process describes the creation, growth, and strengthening of all relationships. It is useful for assessing the status of a business relationship to determine where that relationship is in the process of getting referrals. 

VISIBILITY
Visibility is the phase where people know who you are and what you do.

This happens when two professionals become aware of each other and their respective businesses. It could be because of advertising efforts, or through a civic or business association, or through someone you both know. You may become personally acquainted and work on a first-name basis, however, you know very little about each other. 

The visibility phase is important because it creates recognition and awareness.  The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will be, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, and the greater your chances of being accepted by other individuals or groups as someone to whom they can refer business. 

Visibility must be actively developed and maintained. Without it, you cannot move on to the next phase.

CREDIBILITY
Credibility is the phase where people know who you are, what you do, AND they know you’re good at it.

It is the quality of being reliable and worthy of confidence – appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, services are rendered. When you and your new acquaintance begin to form expectations of each other, and those expectations are fulfilled, the relationship enters the credibility phase of the process.

The old saying that “results speak louder than words” is true and very important for building your credibility in the business relationships you are developing within your networks. You cannot buy credibility, you can only EARN it. Therefore, getting to credibility takes time. When you get to credibility, then you can get to the next phase.

PROFITABILITY
Profitability is the phase where people know who you are and what you do. They know you’re good at it, AND they are willing to refer business to you on an ongoing, reciprocal basis.

The relationship that has developed and matured, whether business or personal, can be defined in terms of its “profitability.” If the relationship is mutually rewarding by providing benefits to each party, and both partners gain satisfaction from it, it will endure. Profitability is not found by bargain hunting or by rushing the relationship. It must be cultivated, and similar to farming, it takes patience.

We can look at every relationship we have and determine where we are in the VCP Process with that person. Remember that everything we do, every action we take, will affect our credibility – either positively or negatively, which affects the time it takes to reach the profitability phase.

Time AND Confidence

Getting to the point of profitability in a business relationship takes both time and confidence. The Time-Confidence Curve shows that whatever type of business you are in, it will take time before people have enough confidence in your ability to provide a quality product or service to know that referring other people to you will not hurt their own reputation.

In the video, you’ll see the Time-Confidence Curve by Profession where I talk about the time difference that it takes from profession to profession to reach the critical confidence level. Some professions may take less time to reach the necessary confidence, for instance – a florist may get referrals quickly. While for other professions, such as a financial planner who invests someone’s retirement money, it will take longer for people to have the required confidence to refer their friends and family to them and their services.

It IS a Process

VCP stands for Visibility, Credibility, Profitability. It is NOT a formula. It is not V + C = P. 
It is a process. You go from visibility to credibility, and from credibility to profitability.

It is important to understand the VCP Process to network effectively. It is a mindset that involves the concept of business networking being more about farming than it is about hunting. It is about developing and growing relationships with like-minded people and knowing where you are in the process, V or C or P, with each of your referral partners.

I invite you to share your thoughts about the VCP Process in the comments section.

Talking About YOUstring(17) "Talking About YOU"

To achieve success in business networking, people need to know what you do and how good you are at doing it. In referral marketing groups, you have opportunities to educate your fellow members about your products and services, as well as the way you interact with potential and existing customers. This is very important to building trusted relationships with the people in your network and for building your credibility enough that they will refer others to you.

Even though most experts discuss networking as though it is easy to talk to strangers, I know that some people find it difficult to talk about themselves. Telling others how good of a businessperson you are just doesn’t come naturally to some of us. However, to get the results you want from your business networking efforts, you must get comfortable talking about YOU.

Getting Comfortable

I recently talked with Charlie Lawson, author of the books, “The Unnatural Networker” and “The Unnatural Promoter.” He says that many professionals are great at what they do. They provide amazing products and top-notch services to their satisfied and devoted clients. And yet, as a businessperson, they may feel uncomfortable with self-promotion and would rather completely avoid talking about themselves.

The best way to get comfortable is to have a group of people around you, people with whom you have good relationships, and who want to help you. When you have established deep, trusted relationships with the members of your networking group, and you’ve educated them about your business capabilities, they will begin talking about you with others. They will go out and promote you for you.

Third-Party Endorsement

The third-party endorsement has always been an effective way to promote yourself.
In my first major book, “The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret,” I discuss the fact that people are more likely to talk about you when they’re upset with you than when they are happy with your services. What you need to do is mobilize those people who are satisfied with your business, and train them to talk about you and how to talk about you effectively. That’s when you get those third-party testimonials that are so powerful.

Referral marketing works when you build strong relationships with your referral partners and are comfortable enough to talk about your business skills and strengths with them. When they are confident in your abilities, they will talk about YOU and refer other people – potential clients, to you.

This works both ways; you need to talk about and find referrals for your referral
partners, too. Remember, the Givers Gain® philosophy is based on the age-old adage of “what goes around comes around,” and giving is just as important as gaining.

I’d like to hear your experience with getting comfortable talking about yourself when networking and invite you to share in the comments.

Predictable Unpredictabilitystring(28) "Predictable Unpredictability"

Many things have changed over the past few years. We now live in a world of Predictable Unpredictability. Whether we like it or not, the future involves change. However, there is one thing that has remained unchanged for the past 30-40 years.
I talk about that, and more, in this video.

Better Together

Today, you need to constantly evaluate your business health within an ever-changing business environment. When you are part of a trusted network you develop a great advantage by building your business through referrals. While your competition relies only on increased advertising to generate growth, you have a powerful network to help you through the unpredictability of today’s world.
Your business network is your business advantage.

Today more than ever you need your network because your network can help you through the most difficult times. Referrals are the engine that drives any business and through consistent business networking, you can harness the power of referrals. Remember, we are all better together.

I invite you to share your thoughts about Predictable Unpredictability.

 

Business Networking is a Marathonstring(33) "Business Networking is a Marathon"

Business networking truly is a marathon of an endeavor – it is most definitely NOT a sprint.  I have met many people who practice ‘hyperactive networking’ who approach their networking efforts at the speed of an all-out sprint. They want to be everywhere, meet everyone, and go, go, go at such a pace that they inevitably ‘collapse’ due to burn-out and have nothing to show for their efforts.

Activity is Not an Accomplishment

Years ago, I met a woman who was known as the consummate networker. She had hundreds, perhaps thousands of contacts, giving her a broad network made up of people from all different walks of life. She was very well known in her community as the go-to person for anything that anybody needed.

One day, she pulled me aside and dropped a bombshell…. she said that her networking efforts weren’t really paying off for her. She went on to tell me about all the groups that she went to, all the people she met, how she had made so many good contacts and was continuing to make more all the time, but she wasn’t getting any solid business from all her efforts. I asked her how many networking events she went to each week, and she said she was going to at least five, and sometimes she went to more!

Why wasn’t she seeing real results? Because despite her amazing talent for making contacts and gaining visibility, she never really got to the heart of what networking is all about – building relationships.  She was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t ever learning how to actually “work” the business networks she had created to build deep relationships with people and develop credibility with them.

It’s true that she was visible in the community; she was very visible. The problem was that she viewed “activity” as an “accomplishment” when it came to her networking efforts. Her network was, in fact, a mile wide, but only an inch deep. She had not taken the next, and most important, step with the many people in her wide-reaching network. She never devoted the time to develop the kind of rapport with any of them that would allow them to really get to know her, like her, trust her, and want to pass referrals to her.

Networking is About Building Relationships

I recently saw the same thing with someone I’ve known for a few years. He made a consistent habit of going to every single networking meeting and event that he could go to, and he was incredibly visible. Not only was he always at networking meetings, he was always full of energy and enthusiasm from the time he arrived, to the time he left. Again, the problem was in no way due to the lack of activity, effort, or enthusiasm regarding putting himself out there and meeting new people.

The problem was that he was running around so much that he never stopped long enough to spend the time necessary to establish the kind of long-term roots that lead to an ongoing, reciprocal referral relationship. The end result was that he got a severe case of networking burnout! He went from going everywhere and meeting everyone possible, to going nowhere and meeting almost no one. A year later his business went under.

Networking is More About Farming Than It Is About Hunting

If your goal is to significantly grow your business by simply making as many contacts as possible, you will never build a powerful personal network. If you are networking with the ‘sprint’ approach, you’re almost guaranteed to get burned out. Constantly bouncing around from event to event is exhausting and ineffective. There needs to be a balance between the visibility-creating aspect of your networking efforts, and the credibility-creating aspects of your networking efforts.

One way to accomplish this is to schedule regular one-to-ones with people you’ve met, in order to go deeper in understanding the services that they offer, and how you might be able to refer them. Most importantly, it’s a way for them to do the same for you.

Case in point is another woman who was a real estate agent in California who shared with me that her business grew dramatically during a major recession in the past, because she decided to develop a network that was both wide and deep in some places.

She took my advice and did at least four one-to-ones a month with people in her network. She focused on building relationships. And once she was convinced that she had found a good business opportunity for some of her contacts, she would actually phone the contact on the spot and put them together with the person that she was meeting with. This created powerful introductions that led to business.

From this activity, she ended up giving twice as many referrals to other people as she had in the past. More importantly, she received twice as many referrals as she had from people in the past. She was treating the process more like a marathon than a sprint. This is a great example of how networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It is all about building relationships with key people.

What is amazing about this story is that it happened at a time when businesses were dealing with a massive recession and the fallout from that recession. More importantly, the businesswoman was in a profession that was hit as hard or harder than the overall majority. Despite the conditions around her, she used her relationship building skills to create long-term referral relationships.

At its core, business networking is about taking the time to build genuine, trusted relationships. Yes, visibility is important, however, without building trust right along with it, visibility won’t get you very far in the long run. It is about treating networking like a marathon, not a sprint.

When it comes to networking, sometimes you have to slow down to go fast.

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boatstring(36) "You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat"

In the 1975 hit movie “Jaws”, Martin Brody, the Police Chief of a small summer resort town in the northeastern United States, utters one of the most quotable lines in film history when he gets his first up-close look at the Great White Shark.  As soon as he sees it, he slowly backs into the wheelhouse and says to Captain Quint, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

This is the prototypical ‘Brody Moment’: a shockingly unambiguous realization that the current resources are no longer a viable option to achieve the results you’re looking for. 

I hope to explain how my Brody Moment came about.  However, the most important thing is for you to think about “your” Brody Moment as you read about mine.  Understanding your Brody Moment can help you think about your motivations and move forward successfully with your entrepreneurial endeavors.

My Brody Moment came at the end of 1985 after I had opened 20 chapters of BNI® by accident – without a plan, without even trying. That’s when I realized that I had struck a chord in the business community.

The “Why” for BNI

I was a management consultant in Southern California and I needed referrals for my consulting practice. I needed referrals for my own business, and I hoped that I would be able to refer some of my friends. So, I put together a group where we could start passing business to each other.

I had previously gone to networks that were incredibly mercenary, everyone was trying to sell to me. I went to other groups that were totally social, with happy hour and hors d’oeuvres, but there was no business happening at those events.

I wanted something that had a focus on business without being mercenary and was relational but not transactional; something that wasn’t totally social because I wanted that relationship-building aspect that led to business. Therefore, I created a network that I hoped would satisfy those two considerations. 

I wanted to merge that focus on business with the relational aspect, and the glue that would hold it together is the principal core value of Givers Gain® – the idea that if I help you and you help me, we will all benefit by working together.

That one networking group led to another and another until there were twenty chapters within 12 months! That first year, I was method-acting my way through the process; I was figuring it out as I went. I was young – 28 years old when I started the company, and I really thought most businesses had this figured out. The thing is, nobody had it figured out because we don’t teach business networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world. What I didn’t expect to find was that everyone has this challenge and that was my Brody Moment.

BNI was an example of necessity being the mother of invention and it helped a lot of businesses. At the end of 1985, I figured out that I “was going to need a bigger boat”. This way of business networking was going to be much larger than I anticipated, so I sat down and created my business plan to scale the company.

A BIG Goal

In June of 1986, I had a goal in mind. I went to the library to gather information on populations. (Remember, at that time there was no such thing as Google.)
After extensive research and many calculations, I felt that BNI could have 10,000 chapters someday.

Shortly after that, I told a friend that I thought there could be 10,000 groups someday. And he said, “10,000?” I replied, “Yeah, I think it’s possible.”
Then he asked me, “And how many groups do you have now?”
I answered, “30.”
He said, “And you think you could have 10,000?”
“Yes, I think it’s possible,” I replied.
To which he said, “It’s good to have goals, Ivan.”

Yes, it was a big goal. And every year, near the end of December, I took time to reflect. I had read the E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber early on and used that as a baseline strategy. I looked at what was working well, and what didn’t work at all.
Each year, I adjusted my plan and revisited the small goals that were all striving toward that one big goal of scaling my company into a global enterprise.

In December 2020, we reached it – BNI had grown to more than 10,000 chapters! And we continue to grow, helping BNI members around the world do business through referral marketing.

As a leader, you’ve probably experienced a few Brody Moments over the course of your career, and you’ve probably got a few more coming. What you do as a result, and how fast you do it, can turn a Brody Moment into a defining moment.

Relationships + Referrals = Revenuestring(35) "Relationships + Referrals = Revenue"

Successful business networking is based on developing relationships with the people in our networks. When people get to know, like and trust each other, they are willing to make introductions and referrals to contacts in their other networks. Those referrals can turn into new customers and clients, adding new sales for our business. That is how Relationships + Referrals = Revenue.

Relationships

To create success and harmony in our lives, it is important to build and maintain our  relationships – in our home, in our work, and in our community.

HOME
We get busy with day-to-day life, especially if we are working from home, and sometimes we take our family for granted. Remember to:
      – Be grateful. Tell the people in our homelife how much we appreciate them. Be specific, be sincere, and tell them often.
      – Show gratitude in a way that means something to them. We often treat others the way we like to be treated. Understanding behavior styles and recognizing the preferences of the people in our lives allows us to share our gratitude in a more meaningful way.  

WORK
Whether we are an entrepreneur or an employee, we spend a lot of time at work. We have business relationships with our team and co-workers.
Remember to:
      – Say thank you. YOU know how much you appreciate them, let them hear it.
      – Be helpful – ask, “How can I help you?” to create beneficial teamwork.
      – Avoid the “it’s not my job” attitude. Expect that everyone contributes in whatever way is needed to achieve success for all.

COMMUNITY
We are part of the community that we live in, whether it is small or large. Our community pulls together when times get tough and celebrates together when things go well.
Remember to:
      – Get involved with a service organization or a service project in your community.
      – Commit to regular attendance and participation with the groups you are part of.
      – Contribute your time, treasure, or talent to help others.

Referrals

We know that it takes time for others to have the confidence in us to get referrals from our network. When we have invested the time to establish strong relationships, and have given referrals to our networking partners, we move from visibility to credibility in the VCP Process®.  Remember to:
      – Actively listen and look for potential referrals for members of your network.
      – Follow up with networking partners to learn how the referrals you gave turned out.
      – Thank your referral partners for connecting with and taking care of the people you referred to them.

Revenue

We can only move to the “P” in the VCP Process – Profitability, after we have obtained credibility with our referral partners. This is after we have built strong and deep relationships, asked others how we can help them, and given referrals to them. That is when we begin to receive referrals for our business, and the revenue comes naturally as a result. Those referrals may come directly from people we gave referrals to, however, they often come from other indirect sources. When we give to others, in our home, our work, our community, it comes back to us in a variety of ways.

In BNI, we call this Givers Gain® and it is our principal Core Value. It is based on the age-old concept of what goes around comes around. Our relationships bring us referrals, which lead to revenue. When you help others, and they help you, everyone does better.

Don’t Keep Score

Don’t Keep Scorestring(18) "Don’t Keep Score"

When it comes to business networking and passing along referrals, it’s not about who’s giving what to whom. There is no rule that says, “For every referral you give, you can expect one in return.” Similarly, when you hand out more referrals, it does not mean that other business professionals will automatically do the same. It just doesn’t work that way in referral marketing.

If you hear of a business opportunity that would be well suited for a referral partner – not a competitor – think of it as “excess business.” When you pass this kind of excess business to others in the form of a referral, you’ll wind up attracting more prospects who want to work with you.

There are plenty of fish in the water. Most fishermen don’t see themselves in competition with the other person whose fishing boat is a hundred yards away. They know there is a plentitude of fish, enough for everyone. In fact, if they pass each other on the way back to the shore, they’ll probably wave to each other and ask if they did well and how many fish they caught.

Do Good Things for Others

The principle of “sowing and reaping” states that when you do good things for other people, those good things have a way of coming back to you – often from a different person or group of people. Even if it seems that you’re not directly benefiting from the referrals you are giving to others, take note of all the other business that “just happens” to come your way:

  •         The person who checks out your website because a friend shared your blog post on social media and gives you a call.
  •         The old prospect you haven’t heard from in months who suddenly wants to get together for lunch.
  •         The inactive client who contacts you to say they want to renew their contract with you.

Even though it seems like happenstance, some or all of that is likely to be new business you attracted by giving away other business, in the form of referrals, to people you know. You can attract new business through the relationship-building process you commit to and can strive to become a networking catalyst to ensure that these things happen on a regular basis.

I recommend that you don’t keep score. Instead, think of giving referrals in the context of the “abundance mind-set,” which is the awareness that there’s more than enough business to go around.

What is your experience with receiving more after giving more?

The-Willing-Conversation

The Willing Conversationstring(24) "The Willing Conversation"

Do you recall playing with magnets as a child? Depending on which way you turned the magnets, they were either attracted to or repelled by one another. As an adult, we may find ourselves feeling six years old again when we make a phone call to a referral who turns out to not be a referral at all. Similar to a magnet turned the wrong direction, you are not being embraced. Rather, you are being resisted. The referral you were given that should have been a “warm introduction” quickly turns into a cold call.

We all want good referrals – people who want to talk to us. We want to give and receive referrals that are willing conversations about the products and services we offer. To receive more effective referrals from the members of our business networking group, we must help them understand our business and our target market enough to identify a good referral for us.

Here are four tips to follow that can lead to more willing conversations.

  1. The Needs Assessment

It is our responsibility to be very clear and specific with our referral partners about what constitutes a good referral. This is a combination of an ideal prospect profile and the problems that we can solve for them.

This is an example of a clearly defined target market is for a corporate coach:
A small to medium-sized company with fewer than one hundred employees. They are closely held, often family-owned, and regional with locations in three or fewer states. They pride themselves on higher-than-average retention of their employees due to a reputation of treating them like family. They are in a competitive industry and are committed to gaining an advantage.

  1. Your Unique Selling Proposition

Do you have dozens or hundreds of competitors in your marketplace? You probably do. That means your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is very important because it allows you to stand out among your competition.

Your USP is a brief description of the purpose of your business, stated in the most concise and compelling way possible, in order to help others understand the unique value of what you do. Your USP tells people the type of client you work with and the benefits you provide to them.

What are you saying that makes you stand out? What do you do that your competition cannot touch? At the very least, figure out what you do better than your rivals and go beyond simply saying “good customer service”.

  1. Why Are You in Business?

What is your passion? Why do you go to work? Unfortunately, one of the most popular answers to this question is “To make money.” That’s the worst answer a business professional can ever give.

Why are you in your profession? How do you change lives? That’s what the referral partners in your business networking group need to know. Remember, passion is referable. You need to go deep and identify your “why” if you want to truly connect with people on a personal level.  

  1. What is Your Emotionally Charged Connection?

Your Emotionally Charged Connection (ECC) is a phrase, leading to a story, that your referral partners can recite when referring to you.

We all have an ECC. It was something that happened to you, often during childhood, that lays the groundwork for who you are as a person. It can be positive or it can be negative. Many people are not consciously aware of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it is the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the checkbook or the head–there’s a big difference.
You can read about my ECC here.

The better you become at sharing the information in these tips with your business networking group, the more likely you are to feel like the magnet that attracts instead of the magnet that repels. Your referral partners will be able to give you good referrals that lead to the willing conversation.

What have you shared with your network that has helped you gain willing conversations with prospective customers?

Networking Is All About Referralsstring(33) "Networking Is All About Referrals"

Yes, it is true that networking IS all about referrals. However, it may not be all business referrals. Even business networking may not be all about business referrals. It can be about sharing ideas, resources, contacts, and information that will help others be successful in their business. Networking is more than just passing referrals for business. Networking can also be about helping others improve their personal, social, and spiritual lives.

Mindset and Skill Set

Networking takes both a mindset and a skill set.
A mindset is a mental attitude or inclination. A skill set is a collection of skills and abilities that can be applied to a professional or creative endeavor.

The mindset for successful networking is helping people – the concept of Givers Gain®
and the law of reciprocity. The skill set is knowing the appropriate techniques and applying them in the right situations. Having the right attitude is half of what is needed. However, if you don’t apply the skill set, it doesn’t matter how good the mindset is.

Conversely, many people acquire a good skill set but fail to develop the right mindset. That is the transactional versus relational approach to networking.

Transactional vs. Relational

If you are focused on the transaction – simply making a sale, you are never going to create the relationship and trust needed to generate the business referrals you seek. I’ve seen so many people say, “Hello, it’s nice to meet you,” and then jump right into business without getting to know the other person at all.

A survey I did for my book, Business Networking and Sex (not what you think), showed that people who focused first on building relationships and then on business, scored higher in success. They said that they were much more successful at networking than people who focused first on business and then relationships.

Remember, it’s great to have a large network, but if your network is a mile wide with lots of people and very few deep relationships, it will never be powerful. A deep network contains the contacts that you know well and who know you very well, too. Those are the contacts who develop referral opportunities for their networking partners.

Yes, networking is all about referrals. And those referrals become possible when you change your plan from focusing on business transactions to focusing on building business relationships. When you invest time in business networking and really get to know your fellow networkers, amazing things can happen.

What networking success have you had by building strong business relationships? I’d like to hear your story in the comment section.

Referrals Work Both Ways

Referrals Work Both Waysstring(24) "Referrals Work Both Ways"

When you receive a referral from your networking group, it directly benefits your business. When you give a referral to someone in your group, it strengthens your network while benefiting your referral partner.

If you have a growing customer base, you’re going to be generating a lot more business for your referral partners. To strengthen your referral network and keep your business growing, you need to make sure your networking partners can handle all the referrals you will be providing.

Because referrals work both ways, it is important to build trust and develop deep relationships with your fellow networking members. You want to have One-to-One meetings with them; get to know them and their business well enough to understand the scope of their services and products. You can ask them detailed questions about their company to find out who their ideal customers are and how they are able to best serve them. This will help you identify possible referrals for them. You may want to ask about their plans for business growth to determine if they can accommodate the potential increase in clients from future referrals.

When you offer your referral partner a business opportunity they can’t handle, several things can happen. They may try to provide the product or service but do a poor job, upsetting the customer – your friend or colleague – which can damage your reputation.

They may pass the referral along to another businessperson that you don’t know, taking control of your referral relationship away from you and putting your reputation at risk. Or they may decline the referral, forcing you to spend additional time finding another person to give the referral to. You may have to go outside your network to put the prospect in touch with someone who can get the job done, which defeats the purpose of your referral network. You may even have to admit to your contact that you cannot help them after all.

Your ability to handle referrals from your network is equally important to your network’s ability to handle referrals from you. If your business grows big and strong but your referral network doesn’t, you will eventually become a network of one.

To keep this from happening, recruit new people and new professions to extend your network for the benefit of all members and take every opportunity to enhance your networking partners’ businesses. A true master networker works on building not just their own business, but the businesses of their fellow networkers, too.

How I Learned About the Power of Testimonials

How I Learned About the Power of Testimonialsstring(45) "How I Learned About the Power of Testimonials"

I learned about the power of testimonials in 1985 shortly after I started BNI®, the networking group I founded to get referrals for my consulting business.
At that time, there was only one chapter. During our weekly meetings, we followed an agenda similar to the one that over 10,400 BNI chapters use today. During the meeting, each member gave a weekly presentation about their business. Then we introduced our visitors, followed by our featured speaker’s presentation. After that, we passed referrals.

During this last part, if you had a referral to give to fellow members, you stood up when your turn came and said, “I have two referrals for Joe and one for Angela, and here’s what they are.” If you didn’t have any referrals, you simply said, “Pass,” and the next person would take their turn.

We’d been meeting for about two months, and at the end of one meeting the chiropractor in our group came to me and said, “Ivan, I haven’t gotten a single referral yet. I know it takes time, but here’s what concerns me: Nobody has even come up to talk to me or asked a question about chiropractic care. How can they refer me?”

I said, “You’re right. You’ve got to get them to use you so they can refer you. Why don’t you offer a free initial consultation to get them to come in and see what you do and how it works? Then they’ll be able to refer you. Here’s an idea. At next week’s meeting, just stand up and offer everyone a free first visit—even throw in an X-ray and do an adjustment—so they can see what chiropractic care is really all about.”

The next week when he did that, only one person out of the entire group said they would take him up on his offer. The chiropractor came up to me at the end of the meeting and said, “Brilliant idea, Ivan. They didn’t exactly flock to me.”

The Power of First-Hand Experience    

The following week, the meeting was moving along nicely, we were passing referrals, and it came around to this guy who had visited the chiropractor. He stood up, hesitated, looked at me, and said, “Ivan, I don’t have a referral today, but I don’t want to pass.”

As President of the chapter, I was running the meeting agenda, so I asked him, “Okay, then, uh . . . what do you want to do?” He said, “Well, I’d like to say a few words.” I said, “O-o-o-kay, well, uh, what do you want to say?”

He said, “Well, I just want to talk about Dr. Rubin. I had an X-ray done. He showed me all around his facility, explained all the things that he did, and then he did an adjustment.” He continued, “I’ve had lower back pain for about seven years. Nothing incapacitating, just a nagging ache that bothers me when I stand too long. For the first time in seven years, my back doesn’t hurt! You all are crazy if you don’t take him up on this offer! I just wanted to say that,” then he sat down.

I looked around the room and saw people picking up pens and filling out referral slips for the chiropractor. I thought, Wow! My agenda doesn’t work! You can’t just tell people to pass; you have to give them a chance to talk about the business they’ve done with other people! It’s critical!

That’s when we started the BNI Testimonial. From that point on, if you didn’t have a referral to give, you didn’t just pass. Instead, you gave a brief testimonial about the business you had done with another member of the group. That way, your experiences would become my experiences, and I could refer the member to somebody else.

My lesson about the power of good testimonials has helped BNI chapters around the world and can be beneficial to all networking groups. Without testimonials, networking groups are missing a great opportunity to generate more referrals for their members.

I invite you to share your experience about a good testimonial.

1 2 3 25