Farming for Referrals

If I could impart one piece of wisdom regarding networking and getting more referrals, it would be this: Networking is about farming for new contacts, not hunting them.

It’s a point that needs to be made, because most business professionals go about networking the way our cave-dwelling ancestors went about hunting food–aggressively and carrying a big stick.

You’ll see them at any gathering of businesspeople. They’re so busy looking for the next big sale or trying to meet the “right” prospect that they approach networking simply as an exercise in sifting through crowds of people until they bag the ideal client, the big customer who can turn their business around. They don’t have time for regular people like us; they’re stalking the director of marketing, chief operating officer or other high-octane connection, looking for the big kill.

“Farmers take a different approach. They don’t waste time looking for the right person; instead, like those who plant seeds and patiently nurture their crops, they seek to form and build relationships wherever they can find them. If they get an immediate payoff, that’s fine, but it’s not their principal goal. They know that the effort expended upfront will pay off in a rich harvest later on–much richer then the hunter’s quick kill–and that truly profitable relationships can’t be rushed.

Share your thoughts OR experiences relating to farming vs. hunting in your networking activities.

7 thoughts on “Farming for Referrals

  1. I’ve been going to a lot of networking events lately and it’s amazing to me how abrasive people can be. Walking right up, shoving a card in your face, and basically throwing up on you.

  2. Thank you for your blog and BNI, I have finally figured out why so many sales professionals make comments like, “these networking events are a hard nut to crack.” It is the mindset of wanting immediate sales results from networking. Once I wrapped my head around the idea of using my networking events to build friendships and leave my sales for another time, I started getting great results from my networking efforts.

    Thanks Ivan.

  3. Farming has proven to my business to be the better approach. Make relationships and give as much value to your network you are able to for free. When you show that value that is when people will want to work with or buy from you.

  4. A lot people still have the misconception that all networking events are transactions and forget that it is really a relationship.

  5. Ivan
    Great advice and i couldn’t agree more. Helping others get what they want will eventually come down to getting what you want. Put others first. And of course the motto ‘Givers Gain’, reap what you sow. Build relationships and have patience in your business dealings. Once you have been accepted as being credible then things will change. Thanks for all your good advice.

  6. Ivan, I appreciate this article and analogy. 6 years ago I was a very timid, shy person who wanted to promote my business. Networking events were extremely intimidating to me because I felt run over by anyone who would talk to me. They just wanted me to buy their product or service and didn’t care about what I might even need. True hunters!

    Coming to a BNI event was different though because people actually wanted to get to know me and only after I asked them about their business did I get more information. This was type of networking felt much more comfortable, even gentle and proved to be so much more effective!

    This Once Timid Networker( thanks you!!

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