I was having a conversation with someone this week about a member of our network group who constantly lets us down after saying he would do something. We agreed that although we liked him, we would find it hard to refer him ...
He just didn't really commit. Would he act the same with our clients? This got me thinking about commitment generally and the level of commitment to other members of your network group.
You are not just paying for the fried eggs and bacon, you're paying to belong to a group that commits to helping each other. Different network groups emphasise this commitment to different degrees.
Most lockout groups (where you have exclusivity for your profession) are very explicit. BNI, for instance, expects members to make a contribution at every meeting and monitors both compliance and their results.
Guess what? More commitment equals better results. And guess what else? It is a major reason why some people choose not to belong to a group like this! They are not willing to make that commitment.
For many people, the reason for not being willing to commit can be seen in the dictionary definition of the word itself. It can be interpreted positively and negatively and how you choose to act will depend on which definition has the strongest pull for you.
So commitment is defined as "the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause or activity". Some of the synonyms, values and actions associated with this are: dedication, devotion, allegiance, loyalty, faithfulness, fidelity, bond, adherence, attentiveness, promise, pledge, covenant, contract, pact, deal, undertaking, decision, resolution, resolve, guarantee, assurance, and affirmation.
All are great words and aspirations and it is easy to see how demonstrating these to other members in your networking group would give someone the confidence to refer you.
Well commitment is also defined as "an engagement or obligation that restricts freedom of action". Some of the associated words to this meaning sit a little less comfortably with many people when thinking about the other business people they meet over the Muesli and yoghurt.
In an extreme case, the term could be used when someone is imprisoned under the Mental Health Act. In a more mainstream sense, think of words and values like responsibility, obligation, duty, tie, charge, liability, burden, pressure or reliance.
If you have committed to do something for yourself or someone else, then the pressure is on to deliver - even when you would rather be doing something else.
Networking does require a level of commitment to the success of others. There can be great rewards. Intrinsically, you will feel good and meet many of those personal values that matter to you. Equally, it will increase your business success because if you commit to helping others they will help you in return.
To counter the sense of restriction, the answer is to take the pressure off yourself by not shouldering the whole responsibility. Within any network group, there are many people able to help each other and your commitment is purely to contribute what you can. Some people you will find it easier to help than others simply because of your skills and talents and the other people you know.
In any relationship, commitment is more likely to develop as the result of constancy and paying attention to the small details than the sporadic big gesture.
Choose people you will find it easy to help, then start with something small you can do for the other person. For example, arrange to meet and then turn up. Ask for something small in return. Maybe that they turn up too!
End each interaction with a clear agreement of what you will do for each other next. Only commit to what you know you are willing and able to deliver.
Allow yourself and the other person to say "Sorry, I can't help with that right now!" Apply the adage you probably apply to your customers and 'under promise and over deliver'. If they offer the grand gesture then check that they really can deliver and be prepared to let them off the hook gently. They may not have read this and be carried along with their own enthusiasm to help you.
Follow this, then neither of you feels the commitment is a burden and neither of you will feel let down.
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.