I love it when I hear this because I know that person is going to succeed at networking. They are obviously a giver, and 'high givers' are the most successful in business.
As a high giver myself, it means that this person is worth investing my time to help them. Not that they will necessarily be able to give to me personally, but because they are going to be a great resource to all my network.
"They are our type of person!"
This blog post is for all those novice networkers who want some ideas on how they can give back. Referrals for business are not always required, at least not to start with.
Take the pressure off yourself, you don't know your fellow networkers well enough yet. How can you possibility refer them to your friends? Same goes for them, they don't know if you're any good at what you do either! Do the groundwork first and then the opportunities to refer and be referred will come.
What have you got to offer?
The few minutes you have together in a networking meeting isn't long enough to get to know people and for them to get to know you. So arrange to have a one-to-one, perhaps over coffee, as it will demonstrate that you are interested in them.
Remember that the emphasis is on sharing information with each other. It is not a sales meeting it is about understanding what each of you has to offer. A little self-disclosure about what you do outside of work will get the conversation going, but it's not a counselling session either.
Even if you are brand new to running your own business, you are the specialist in what you do and can contribute your knowledge to others. Most networking groups have items on the agenda specifically for you to share your expertise. It starts right at the beginning with the general conversation over coffee before the formalities or within the meeting with items like a 'hot spot'. This is where a member specifically asks for advice on a topic they are struggling with.
Often there is also an opportunity to do a 10-minute presentation. Use that to share some useful tips, as these are 'giving opportunities' your aim should be to be helpful rather than to sell. Nervous about presenting? See the next section.
Your own needs
Asking for help or advice is a giving activity too! People are flattered that you recognise their expertise in return. Interestingly, we are more likely to like someone who we help than someone who helps us. Do remember that if giving advice is how they earn their living, don't expect a full consultation for nothing, for example, expecting full legal advice from a lawyer for free. However, most people are generous with their knowledge and will let you know when they think you need paid-for advice.
This is also a great way of testing out if you are willing to refer them, try them on yourself first. Just beware that you don't buy things you really don't need at present. It can get expensive!
Your local or industry knowledge
If you network in person, the chances are you live in the area so will have local knowledge of events, issues or people that might be useful to other group members. Even if you are networking away from home, you will have knowledge about your industry and the industries of your clients that might make all the difference to others in the group.
In my experience, unless you have been living as a hermit, you know more people that you give yourself credit for. These may be useful people to meet your new contacts. You're not necessarily giving a full blown referral, but just connecting them to people who might be able to help them.
Learn to listen carefully to what kind of help people need. You may not be able to help them yourself, but you may know someone. If you do this you will soon get known as the person to go to.
Two last little tips that have a huge impact:
Always remember to thank other members personally and publically for any help you have received. A word of wisdom - keep it in proportion to what they have done for you - a quiet word of thanks for a useful tip can be more meaningful that a grand gesture.
Many network groups have a specific slot in the agenda for you to acknowledge the help you've received, so do use it. It's good manners and it boosts that person's credibility within the group.
Going networking is about joining a community and talking about each other is part of that. Gossip is how we make or break reputations. Add to the gossip about others in a positive way. How lovely to hear that others have been talking about you behind your back and saying nice things!
You may not know it yet, but you have so much to offer. So why don't you call me on 0333 335 0416 if you would like some guidance on business networking. Let's have a coffee and a chat to see how I can help you.
I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.
What I love most about my work is when my clients get those “aha” moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forwards. Then they will achieve their ambitions.
Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.
So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.
In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to work with Ascentiv and train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.
No unauthorised use, duplication, distribution or modification to any original content contained within this blog is permitted without prior written permission of the author. All other trademarks and registered names are acknowledged.