Successful Business Networking: Do You Need to Know How to “Sell?”

Successful Business Networking: Do You Need to Know How to “Sell”?string(70) "Successful Business Networking: Do You Need to Know How to “Sell”?"

The answer is YES. Master networkers know that sales skills are absolutely required for successful referral marketing. Those skills are needed in every part of the process – not just in closing the sale with the prospect.

There have been numerous businesspeople I’ve met over the years who are fantastic networkers and they think that just because they know how to network, they don’t need to know how to sell. They assume that people will like them and then, because they like them, their products or services will sell themselves. This kind of mentality is unfortunate because people who think this way often leave business on the table.

There are three steps in the referral marketing sales process where selling skills are essential.

To Get the Referral

From the very beginning, you must sell yourself to your potential referral source.
Remember, a referral is not a guaranteed sale. A referral is an opportunity to talk with, and possibly do business with, someone to whom you’ve been recommended. You still have to close the deal. You have to make it clear that you know how to sell, and that you can and will provide the products or services that you are expected to provide. And that the customer will be happy with both the process and the result – which will reflect favorably on the person that provided the referral.

If you are unable to make that first “sale,” your potential referral source won’t become a referral partner. They won’t be inclined to risk their reputation and relationship with the prospect and won’t do their part to sell the referral.

To Get the Appointment

Beyond selling yourself to the referral source, you have to sell yourself to the prospect to get that first appointment. Yes, the referral helps a great deal, but you still have to convince the potential buyer that the appointment is worth their time and is likely to result in a favorable outcome for them.

I strongly recommend that networkers avoid being aggressive, indecisive, or evasive at this point. The prospect has been in contact with your referral provider and is expecting a high level of professionalism and respect from you in your approach. Be confident that a mutually beneficial deal is in the works and communicate this to the potential client with your attitude and actions. Strive not to embarrass your referral partner that connected you with this person.

To Get the Sale

Once you have made the appointment, you have to persuade the potential customer to buy your product or service. This is the part that usually comes to mind when you hear the word “sell.” Your integrity is paramount at this stage. They should know exactly what to expect from you – no hidden charges, no unexpected exceptions, and no bait-and-switch.

The number one thing to remember is to make your referral provider look good when you are talking with the person they referred to you. You need to demonstrate that you know how to sell to the prospect in a way that doesn’t reflect poorly back on them. They want to be confident that you will consult with the potential customer, discover their needs, offer solutions based on those needs, give them some options, and you won’t force a sale if you know you are unable to provide a good solution.

Note that in referral marketing, closing the deal with your prospect is neither the beginning nor the end of the selling process. To get to this point, you will have made at least two other sales, as noted above. To build and maintain the long-term relationships that characterize successful referral marketing, you have to follow up with both your new client and with your referral partner as part of the total sales process.

Sales skills are important in business networking. Some people are better at closing sales than others. Having the knowledge and skill to generate the referral, then having the knowledge and skill to close the sale, gives the businessperson a significant advantage.

The sales process is all about keeping an ongoing relationship with the client or customer, AND with your referral partner. This is something that the best referral marketers know and understand. “Sell” is a word that should be in every networker’s vocabulary.

How do you sharpen your sales skills and/or keep an ongoing relationship with your clients/customers?

Four Ways to Grow Your Businessstring(31) "Four Ways to Grow Your Business"

We all want sustainable growth in our business. The question is: where to begin? Success expert and author Brian Tracy said, “When all you have is a hammer, the whole world looks like a nail.”

We can do more than walk around with a hammer. I think we can be more strategic by identifying four ways to grow your business and examining the pros and cons of each.

  1. Advertising

This is often the first place businesses go to drive growth, especially if they don’t know where else to start. There are numerous advertising options available including online, television, radio, print, newsletters, billboards, coupons and other promotions, bus benches, and even posting a business card on the local community bulletin board.

The Pros of Advertising

  • The potential to reach masses of people in a short time frame.
  • Very little work or effort because an expert is hired to do it.
  • It can generate a large volume of leads.
  • It can be targeted to specific demographics and to different geographic areas.

The Cons of Advertising

  • Potentially the most expensive way to grow a business.
  • If an advertising campaign is not strategically executed, it could have zero results.
  • Some statistics show that 80% of sales come after at least five impressions or contacts with potential customers. There needs to be a commitment to a long-term strategy with advertising campaigns.
  • Consumers are bombarded with ads, and it can be difficult to break through the clutter and capture their attention.

  1. Public Relations

Public relations (PR) manages the message between a company or individual and the public. Good PR helps build visibility, boost credibility, and enhance the reputation of a brand or company through storytelling, and by promoting a company’s products and services. This is usually accomplished through press releases, feature stories on television news broadcasts, and/or articles in newspapers, magazines, or websites.

The Pros of PR

  • It is a cost-effective approach to building positive awareness about a brand.
  • PR is an efficient tool for building credibility, especially through media relations.
  • The third-party endorsement and support of a quality journalist who covers a story about your company can be invaluable.
  • Good PR can enhance and amplify other marketing efforts.

The Cons of PR

  • PR is generally about brand building. It is not about immediate sales.
  • It takes time to build relationships with both journalists and with the public. Public relations results are not instantaneous.
  • Measuring the results of any marketing initiative is critical. However, it is often difficult to evaluate the success of a PR campaign because it is not traditional marketing.

  1. Cold Calling

About ninety-seven percent of salespeople don’t like to make cold calls. That means the remaining three percent who claim to like cold calling are either lying or are gluttons for punishment. If so many salespeople dislike cold calling, why do they continue to do it? Perhaps it is that cold calling may seem to be the most direct route to conceivable new business.

The Pros of Cold Calling

  • It allows someone to hone their skill of leaving the prefect voicemail message which will never be returned by most of the prospects being called.
  • Cold calling builds character, which is supposedly good for you.
  • If you make enough cold calls, someone will eventually take pity on you and just maybe buy something.

The Cons of Cold Calling

  • It’s a cold call.
  • It can take hundreds of cold calls before there are any signs of potential success.
  • There are hundreds of calls to follow up with.
  • Cold call recipients often reject the caller or just hang up on them.

  1. Networking and Referrals

One of the best opportunities for new business comes in the form of a referral. A referral is the most qualified form of new opportunities and is also a compliment to you and your business. Think about it: there is often nothing to gain on the part of the person giving the referral except their desire to recognize how great you are by allowing you to take care of their family, friends, and business associates.

The Pros of Networking and Referrals

  • The closing ratio for referred clients is 300 – 700 percent higher than for cold call leads.
  • Referred customers stay four times longer than non-referred customers.
  • Clients from referrals buy 3-4 times more in the first year than those from other sources.
  • Referred customers are more likely to refer you to their family, friends, and co-workers in the future.

The Cons of Networking and Referrals

  • Quality referrals cannot be purchased. They must be earned with the investment of time and energy needed to develop deep business relationships.
  • Without a referral marketing system or strategy, referrals can be infrequent and random.
  • Profitable referral relationships take longer to develop because they are based on trust.

  • Now that you are familiar with the four ways to grow your business and understand the pros and cons for each, you can make an educated decision about what will work best for your business. It is likely that you will use (or already have used) a unique blend of all four of them. As a businessperson, I have used all of them at some point in my career.

My experience from more than three decades of growing and running a business is that referrals are the least costly form of business growth, and they typically produce better long-term results.

I invite you to share your experience and thoughts in the comment section.

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.

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.

Making People Feel Welcomestring(26) "Making People Feel Welcome"

It is important that people feel welcome when they visit a networking group.
Why?
They have made a commitment and invested the time to be there.
They may become a new customer for people in the group.
They may know people who are potential clients for members of the group.
They will tell other professionals they know about their experience at the meeting.
They may be the connection to the BIGGEST referral you ever get.
They may be a future new member of the group.
AND – remember that you once visited the group for the first time, and someone welcomed you!

My First Visits to Networking Groups

In 1984 I was going around to a lot of different networking groups. I was a member of different types of networking organizations. Some of them were really mercenary. It was very transactional, all about the business. They were very direct, very sales-oriented, very promotional and there was no relationship.

Then I went to other groups that were so totally social. There was no business being done, lots of talking and socializing. It was basically just a coffee klatch.

Neither of these felt very welcoming and they were not what I was looking for in a networking organization. I felt there had to be something in between, something that was relational but also had procedures and rules – a system. That is how BNI® came to be. I believe it is important to have both the systems and the people-oriented approach to networking.

Why People May Not Feel Welcome

When a guest visits a networking meeting for the first time, they don’t know where to start. It is a new environment for them, and they may be unsure about what to do and who to talk to.

Perhaps they feel ignored. That may be because the members of a networking group or BNI chapter have such strong business relationships that they can appear to be clique-ish, even though they may not be. Rather than clique-ish, it is usually that the members have become friends and look forward to seeing each other each week at the meeting.

Make It a Good Experience

Visiting a networking event is more than simply going to a meeting. It is an experience. When visitors attend a meeting, they are either going to have a good experience or a bad experience. Small things can make a difference in a visitor’s perception of the networking organization.

It is the responsibility of every member of the group to welcome guests. New members  and seasoned members – take it upon yourself to make visitors feel welcome when they are at your meeting.

Start with a friendly greeting and a smile.
Ask about them and their business or company.
Introduce them to other members of the chapter.
Always keep the conversation positive, even if you are having a challenging week.
Provide some information about the meeting agenda so they know what to expect.
Offer to answer any questions they have about the meeting and the group.

These simple, little things are a BIG part of making the visitor experience a welcoming and positive one. If they don’t feel welcome, they don’t want to come back.
Just remember this: you have to make people feel welcome so that they have a great experience when they visit your group.

Quality Relationships

Building Quality Relationshipsstring(30) "Building Quality Relationships"

Years ago, I learned that there is a correlation between the number of quality relationships and the number of referrals generated in a strong networking group. If you have a networking group of 16 members, that group has 120 relationships among all the members. However, a networking group of 32 members has 496 relationships among the members. Doubling the size of a networking group from 16 to 32 members has over four times the number of relationships. See the above graphic for an example of these relationships as chords of a circle. This video further explains this concept.

The Number of Quality Relationships Generated by the Members of a Strong Network

The number of relationships grows exponentially as the size of the group gets larger.  For example, if your networking group has 50 members, that networking group has 1225 relationships among the members. We have a few BNI chapters with 100 members. Therefore, they have 4950 quality relationships among their members. However, it is not the QUANTITY of members in your networking group that is important. What is important is the QUALITY of the relationships that you have with the members of your strong network. Growing more quality relationships in your networking group will increase the number of referrals generated by your members.

The formula: Number of Relationships = 0.5 x [(Number of members) x (Number of members – 1)] 

Quantity is good, but quality truly is king

The bottom line is that the more connections you have, (based on quality relationships of course), the more referrals you generate.  Grow your business by growing a strong network of quality relationships. For decades, I have seen groups that are twice the size of other groups in an area generate several times more referrals than their smaller counterparts.  The math is pretty significant and consistent. If you know your connections well enough to be able to call and ask for a favor–and get it–that is a powerful network.

Effective networking is about building strong relationships. If you approach the first months or year of your involvement in a networking group with the sole motivation of building relationships first by getting to know the other members well, you will be far ahead of the game. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that it is not really what you know or who you know. It’s how well you know them that really counts. People do business with people they know and trust. The more relationships you build with your members, the more referrals you can give to your members, and the more referrals you will receive from them.

elephant

How to Network with the Elephant in the Roomstring(44) "How to Network with the Elephant in the Room"

Experienced networkers understand that networking is not always a perfect 100% satisfaction guaranteed activity. A member can sometimes have a problem with another person in their networking group. However, instead of talking with this person to resolve the problem, the member avoids this person due to their personal discomfort, and the unresolved problem can grow into a larger situation. Now, the situation has created “the elephant in the room”, which could cause drama within the networking group.

Drama can occur in any group where wide varieties of people and personalities interact. This is also true in business networking groups that meet weekly for in-person or online meetings. If the physical avoidance between these two members is obvious to others at the networking meeting, the negativity from the situation could be felt by others in the group as “the elephant in the room”, potentially causing drama within the group.

What is “the elephant in the room”?

The elephant in the roomis defined as “a metaphorical idiom for an enormous topic or controversial issue that is obvious or that everyone knows about but no one mentions or wants to discuss because it makes at least some of them uncomfortable”. The member, due to discomfort, ignored the initial problem with the other person and avoided them during the group meetings. Therefore, the unresolved problem grew into a larger situation that became very obvious to the other members of the networking group. The initial problem between these two members evolved into “the elephant in the room” for the entire networking group. So, how do you tame and remove the elephant? Here are three of the most common situations why a networking group might have “the elephant in the room” and my suggestions for gracefully taming each of them:

Elephant #1: Poor Referrals

The reason for joining a networking group is to build strong relationships with the members to refer business to one another. Normally, this is a win-win for the member receiving the referral because their business grows with a new client, as well as a win for the member who gave the referral because of Givers Gain®. However, a small percentage of referrals may be poor referrals. They take up time but do not result in closed business. When something goes wrong and a member receives a poor referral, this can create the first elephant.

People who are experiencing a problem with a fellow member tend to talk about the problem to other members instead of talking directly with the fellow member that they are experiencing the problem with. This can actually make the problem worse.

Talk with the member giving you poor referrals.

In most of these situations, nothing was wrong with the actual referral. Usually, the problem was simply caused by miscommunication. Do not perpetuate problems by avoiding open, honest communication with others. Take the time to talk about it in a non-confrontational way. Talking right away will avoid making these awkward situations even worse.

Elephant #2: Personal Disagreements

Networking would be so much easier if people were not involved. Although networking is all about building relationships with people, personal disagreements are inevitable and problems occur. Avoiding each other due to discomfort and not talking with each other to resolve the disagreement creates the second elephant.

Focus on the solution rather than on the problem.

If you only focus on the problem, you become an expert on the problem. All too often, when facing a problem, the first thing we tend to do is focus on the negative situation. This tends to move us further from finding a way to fix it and that does not help the problem.

You must begin to start focusing on ways to resolve the situation by focusing on solutions. Rather than react, take the time to fully analyze the problem then make a list of possible solutions. When we think of ways to overcome our problems, we are prepared for the next problem down the road. Often, all that is needed is honest and direct communication between the two members to solve the disagreement.

Elephant #3: Breakups Between Members

Networking groups tend to attract like-minded people. Sometimes they bring two of their members together for more than just business. Over the years, I have known many couples that dated, fell in love, got married, and started a family together all because they first met at their networking group. On the other hand, this can quickly create the third elephant if the relationship ends badly and the two members remain in the same group after the messy breakup.

Take the higher ground and continue to network.

Given the value of your network, it is worth working through those feelings if you find yourself in a breakup with another member of your networking group. Do not lose your network of valuable referral sources you have built. The more professional you remain following the breakup, the higher your regard will be by your group. Therefore, remember not to talk badly about the other person or discuss the breakup situation with other members of the group.

Whatever the reason, many people involved in business networking may one day face a situation with “the elephant in the room”. Remember not to focus on growing the problem but on growing your business. Do not burn bridges with people in your group by avoiding them or the uncomfortable situation. Instead, talk to them about your concerns. You never know what the future will bring. You might end up being friends and valued referral partners with the former elephant.

Former Classmates

Reconnect with Your Former Classmatesstring(37) "Reconnect with Your Former Classmates"

During the “back to school” season, I often recall my first day at the University of Southern California. This is where I pursued a doctorate in organizational behavior. One professor spent the first part of the class talking about the “elite network” of peers. We were going to be working alongside these peers and he talked about how we would build lifelong relationships with them. Instead, we spread out to chase our professional goals without any context in which to keep in touch after graduation. I have not networked with any of my former classmates over the years. Therefore, I have not given to or received from any of my former classmates a business referral.

Fortunately, the internet now offers a multitude of options to help you reconnect with old school friends and acquaintances. Here are three steps to convert those past relationships into useful new tools for your business.

to help you reconnect with old school friends and acquaintances. Here are three steps to convert those old relationships into useful new tools for your business.

Contact your school’s alumni services department. 

By being active with your alumni organization, you can share news about your business that may catch the eye of your fellow graduates. You can also research other alumni to find out who you may want to connect with.

Reconnect with your former classmates using social media.

LinkedIn is an online platform that connects the world’s professionals. A complete LinkedIn profile includes your educational background in addition to your professional experiences. You will likely find many of your former classmates there because LinkedIn will display anyone who attended college at the same time as you.

Facebook is a social networking site that makes it easy for you to connect and share with family and friends online. I hear stories all the time about how people have reconnected with classmates and childhood friends they have not seen in years.

Social media is best used as a brand-building tool. However, you can use it to find new sales leads to make a sale and close a deal. Write an occasional post on your pages asking your followers if they know anyone who might be a potential customer for your business. You can also occasionally mention a special deal, or announce a special event.  Encourage your followers to “like” and “share” your posts with the people in their networks.

Gently seek referrals.

Once you have organized your network, the next step is to tactfully tap your social capital. But be careful. Networking is about building stronger relationships, not closing a sale. If you immediately try to sell to an old classmate, they might drop, disconnect, or “un-friend” you. You have not talked to your classmates in years. Therefore, take the time to rebuild a strong relationship first.

I encourage you to connect with one of your former classmates during the coming week by using one of the online networking options. Once you have started reconnecting with old classmates, it’s important to keep track of these valuable contacts by setting up and maintaining a database system to organize your network to be able to follow-up with them regularly.

These tips will help you effectively reconnect with your former classmates so you do not have to sit around waiting for a reunion to give you the opportunity. The main thing is to keep in touch with these potentially wonderful business contacts.  Maintain a powerful personal network by contacting your old classmates (maybe go “old-school” and call them) regularly and adopt these tips now. 

Ruin Reputations

Giving Referrals Can Ruin Reputationsstring(37) "Giving Referrals Can Ruin Reputations"

Referral marketing is the most effective form of advertising. However, many approach referral marketing with an “Old Faithful” attitude. All they have to do is just show up weekly to their networking events and referral business to them will simply erupt regularly like this geyser. What they do not realize is that once their trust in you evaporates, so does the water. In referral marketing, your trust and your reputation are on the line all the time.  Therefore, you need to do what you say you are going to do. You need to be professional and do what you can to not ruin reputations with others.

When you give a referral, you give away a little bit of your reputation.

While giving a good referral will enhance your relationship, a bad referral will hurt it. This is extremely important when referring someone to your client or customer. If the person you referred does a poor job, your relationship with your client will suffer. You may even lose that customer due to the lack of trust they now have in you for giving them that bad referral. Now the geyser is dry.

Therefore, the biggest risk in referral marketing is not the person you are referring to someone. The biggest risks are the referral giver’s reputation and the risk to their business relationships with others. Get to know the people you are referring to others. Find out as much as you can about the services they offer. Plus, make sure they have integrity. If you do not take the time for this, your reputation is at risk. Finally, never give good referrals to people who do not want them or cannot handle them with the same integrity and professionalism you use with your clients. Do not be this guy. You do not want to refer someone to your client, and your client is expecting a geyser. However, the only result your client experiences is a dripping faucet in the middle of the night instead.

Everyone can Ruin Reputations

However, I am not saying that you accept 100% of the blame and responsibility for the bad referral. Referral marketing is more than just you. Everyone is involved in a threeway referral relationship. The person being referred to your client can do himself permanent damage by performing poorly or dishonestly. He agreed to a service contract or sales transaction with your client. What expectations has your client had in the past when working with you? You can share these same client expectations you experienced with the person you are referring to your client.

Even your client has some responsibility for the bad referral. Your client needs to clearly explain to you the exact service, product, or assistance they are looking to you to help them to find the right person to refer to them. Therefore, their expectation should be reasonable. If they are looking for a “small fountain” when discussing the possible referral with you, they should not be expecting a “large geyser” later on when working with the referral. However, they should also not be receiving a “little drip” either. Especially if they prepaid for the “fountain”.

Even Old Faithful is not as faithful as it used to be.

Tourists visit Yellowstone National Park in (mostly) Wyoming, USA every year to see the Old Faithful Geyser for its frequent and somewhat predictable eruptions. Rumors claimed that the eruptions occur hourly. People speak of the average time between eruptions. This is misleading and these rumors could ruin reputations with the tourists expecting to view the geyser based upon an exact schedule of when the geyser will erupt next. The mathematical average between eruptions of Old Faithful is currently 74 minutes, but it doesn’t like to act average! Intervals can range from 60-110 minutes. The world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful in Yellowstone, currently erupts around 20 times a day. These eruptions are predicted with a 90 percent confidence rate, within a 10-minute variation. I do love a good statistical report to end a story.

Master the Art of Networking

Master the Art of Networkingstring(28) "Master the Art of Networking"

Networking is more than just shaking hands and passing out business cards, it is about building your “social capital.” Networking is more about “farming” than it is about “hunting.” It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. It’s about realizing the capital that comes from building social relationships. Master the art of networking with these ten tips:

1. Follow up on referrals.

If you present an opportunity, whether it is a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up successfully, it is no secret that you will eventually stop wasting your time sending referrals to this person.

2. Have a positive attitude.

A negative attitude makes people dislike being around you and drives away referrals. However, a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends, family, and associates to them.

4. Remain trustworthy.

When you refer one person to another, you are putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact or valuable information to someone who cannot be trusted to handle it well.

5. Practice good listening skills.

Our success as networkers depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. Communicate well, listen, and learn.

6. Always network.

Master networkers are never off duty. Networking is so natural to them that they can be found networking in the grocery store line, online, and while working from home. After this “Great Pause”, we will soon be able to network again at chamber mixers and networking meetings.

7. Thank people.

Gratitude is sorely lacking in today’s business world. Expressing gratitude to business associates and clients is just another building block in the cultivation of relationships that will lead to increased referrals. People like to refer others to business professionals that go above and beyond. Thanking others at every opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd.

8. Help others.

Master networkers keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people’s interests whenever they can. Helping others can be done in a variety of ways, from literally showing up to help with an office move to clipping a helpful and interesting article and mailing it to an associate or client.

9. Be sincere.

If you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it. Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn. One of the best ways to develop this trait is to give your undivided attention to the people you are networking with.

10. Work the art of networking.

Master networkers do not let any opportunity to work their networks pass them by. They manage their contacts, organize their e-mail address files, and carry their referral partners’ business cards as well as their own. They set up appointments to get better acquainted with new contacts so that they can learn as much about them as possible so that they can truly become part of each other’s networks.

Do you see the trend with these ten points? They all tie into long-term relationship building. People who take the time to build their social capital are the ones who will have new business referred to them over and over. The key is to build mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed to master the art of networking.

Staying in Touch With Your Clients

Staying in Touch With Your Clientsstring(34) "Staying in Touch With Your Clients"

Your business thrives by networking. Staying in touch is an important part of the networking process. Networking is much more than making contact with others and getting new business from them. The golden rule of networking is staying in touch with your clients. You strengthen your business relationships by fostering solid relationships with clients.

During “The Great Pause of 2020”, we started working from home. We created a plan to get through this situation with our businesses. Because we could not go to our usual places to network face-to-face with others, we took action and learned how to network online to stay in touch with people. Now, we need to plan on what we are going to do when society returns to the “new normal”. We need to get back in touch with those people that you have not seen or spoken with recently by focusing on strengthening these business relationships.

Here are six ways for staying in touch with your clients and strengthening your business relationships:

Spread out your phone calls.

Regular contact is important right now regardless of the type of relationship with your clients. Two short phone calls are more beneficial than one long call. Each phone call becomes an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and to enhance your credibility.

Schedule the phone calls predictably.

Stay in contact with your clients. Train them to expect to hear from you at certain times. If you usually contact certain customers during the first week of every quarter, they will come to expect it and will budget time for you.

One phone call leads to the next phone call.

Before concluding your telephone conversation, schedule the date of your next phone call. With this commitment, you are more likely to follow through. This practice establishes a chain of contacts, with each phone call leading to the next.

Assume responsibility for your phone calls.

Take the initiative and stay in touch with your customers. When clients do not feel cared for, they are more likely to leave. You are more likely to head off potential problems by staying in touch with them by picking up the telephone and calling them these days.

Invite them to your online networking events.

One way of making sure to stay in contact with your customers is to invite them to join you at your online networking events. This is a great way to introduce your customers to other people.

Stick to your plan for staying in touch with your clients

Occasionally your clients will telephone you. Do not let this interfere with your contact schedule. Do not count it as one of your prescheduled phone calls when they initiate the phone call.

People need their network, now more than ever. Maintain a powerful personal network by telephoning your clients and adopting these tips right now. You will have a stronger business tomorrow because of the actions you take today by staying in touch with your clients.

Solutions Focused

Look For Solutions Focused People When You Are Networkingstring(57) "Look For Solutions Focused People When You Are Networking"

There are some people who are positive and supportive individuals. Over the years, I’ve recognized that these are the people that I really want to be around. They are solutions focused when it comes to solving problems. Plus, they are almost always willing to talk through challenges with a positive end in mind. These solutions focused people are enginesThey help us be our best selves, and they motivate us to drive forward in a positive way. The quality of your personal and professional network is highly dependent on the people in your network.

We often consider people’s aptitude when we bring them into our personal network, but we often forget to consider their attitude. Based on a survey I conducted of over 3,400 people around the world, one of the top characteristics of a great networker is, in fact, their attitude. Focus on networking with solutions focused people who are engines, not anchors.

Solutions Focused People

I have noticed, as I’m sure you have, that there are some people who complain as though it were an Olympic event. And for the record, I’ve checked, and it’s not. Furthermore, they tend to be negative, argumentative, and obsessed with problems without any real focus on solutions. I’ve learned not to spend much time with these people because they focus on all the things that are wrong relating to most challenges. If all someone does is focus on problems, they become an expert on the problems and not on the solutions. These people are anchors. They hold us back and weigh us down.

Who do you surround yourself with, engines or anchors?

This is an important question for everyone. Therefore, It is particularly important if you are trying to build a powerful personal network of people around you. Is your network full of people who are engines helping you go to the next level in your life or your career? Or are they anchors weighing you down with the plethora of complaints?

Do they hold you back, or do they drive you forward?  Sometimes when we first meet someone, we can’t tell if they are an engine or an anchor. It may take a little time to observe the way they do business and how they interact with others. However, it is critical that we take notice as soon as possible.

If you want to build a powerful personal network, look for engines — those solutions focused people who help you in your business and in your life. Forbid entrance to the anchors who may be trying to get into your personal network. Generally, they don’t really care about you but mostly care about what you can do for them instead.

The funny thing here is that no one thinks they’re an anchor — no one. They’ll tell you that they are an engine and that they just don’t like the direction you are going and that’s why they come across the way they do. For the record, this attitude means they are an anchor with a motor attached who is trying to take you down faster.

My advice is to call for “all hands on deck,” cut loose the anchors in your life. Partner up with your fellow engines and go full speed ahead. Create the life and the network that you want. Only other solutions focused people can help you do that.

1 2 3 13