Imagine living in a world where you spend your work week meeting with highly qualified potential clients; returning calls and emails regarding quality referrals from current customers and other business associates; and having a trusted group of like-minded professionals who are eager to help you succeed. It sounds wonderful, right?
The Three R’s of Networking
Many successful people live in this type of world through the results of their business networking efforts. They know the Three R’s of Networking and invest the time to use them effectively.
Relationships – building a strong foundation with others
Reliability – building credibility with networking partners
Referrals – receiving referrals from your networking group and giving referrals to them
Giving and receiving business referrals in mutually beneficial relationships that are built on trust is what the Givers Gain® philosophy is all about. It’s about helping others, knowing that “what goes around, comes around.”
Giving opportunities to others would be a fine way to spend our days. Is it possible, though, that this giving could go wrong? Yes, we need to be aware that it can.
The VCP Process
When giving referrals, always keep the VCP Process® in mind.
You are in visibility with someone when they know you are and what you do. You are in credibility when they know who you are, what you do, and that you’re good at it. You are in profitability with someone when you are receiving referrals from them on an ongoing reciprocal basis. It takes time to move through the VCP Process.
What’s the lesson here? Practice Givers Gain with those who have earned credibility… lest it become Givers “Pain.”
This is a story about a friend of mine and a referral that turned into a painful experience.
Ryan loved boating with his friends and family during the summer. However, he found it rather “unfun” and time-consuming when it came to winterizing and storing the boat for the winter. He decided that he would gladly pay someone else to do it for him. He asked a good friend and boat dealer whom he recommended for those services. Because the friend was someone that Ryan trusted, he took his advice and hired Simon to winterize his boat. Well, Simon took four times longer than he promised, which meant the engine was not winterized by the first frost of the winter – not a good thing. He also left the boat uncovered in the rain and sleet for five days, soaking the interior. He didn’t return Ryan’s calls, compounding the bad experience.
As the giver of the Simon referral, Ryan’s friend felt terrible, yet Ryan felt that he was unlikely to take any more recommendations from him in the future.
Three Ways to Practice Givers Gain
Here are three ways to practice Givers Gain so that it will not become Givers “Pain.”
- Understand the disclaimer: No matter how solid the relationship you have with your referral partner, always let the person you are referring to them know that your experience with them in the past is your best indication of how they will perform in the future. No one expects you to be a fortune teller. They, too, will be surprised if a deal goes poorly if you have shown them all the reasons this person is a good choice. Nonetheless, there are no guarantees in life; we all understand that.
- Set the stage: Lean positively on the relationship and give the referral with accountability. If Ryan’s friend had first made a call to Simon and said, “I am going to send you someone who means a lot to me, and I need you to take care of them,“ that call could have changed everything. A personal call should be the minimum. In the example, what if all three of them met at the boat dock to walk through the expectations as a team? Would the referral have had a better outcome? Possibly. Yes, it may sound like a lot of work on the part of the referral giver, but considering how poorly this recommendation went, do you think he wished he would have done this? Absolutely.
- Realize that time always proves worth: I have witnessed thousands of visitors attending BNI® networking meetings over the years and am always amazed when I see members pass immediate referrals to first-time guests, and vice versa. I often hear later that some deals went poorly, or someone never followed up. There was no time investment to build credibility and prove reliability with the new acquaintance before giving a referral.
Remember, building relationships that lead to business referrals takes time. Proving yourself over and over, and over again, is the way to earn trust and referrals from your networking partners. Taking the three steps above when giving referrals can help avoid Givers “Pain,” making it a good experience for all.