When I started networking to win business, I quickly grasped the concept of Givers Gain®. I give you business and you'll return the favour ...
So, I gave and I gave and I gave, and quickly learnt that on its own, Givers Gain® doesn't work very well. My early experience was filled with disappointment as my fellow networkers delivered very little for me.
What I learned from this experience was that people need to be able and willing to refer me. Here's a quick checklist you can use to manage your own expectations about what other people can offer you. Then you can concentrate on giving to the right people.
This was my personal, big light bulb moment. No matter how willing or able someone is to refer you, if they don't know the sort of person you want as clients they can't help you directly.
Now, a common complaint from networkers is that their clients do not go 'networking'. That may be true, however, you're not going networking to meet your clients, but to meet people who work with similar clients or socialise with the sort of people you want as clients. If you're falling into that trap of selling into the room, take a sideways step and read my blog post entitled Has Your Pond Dried Up?
Before you have any expectations about the level of referrals you can expect from any group of people, check out how many of them are looking for similar types of clients, but are not in competition with you. This is your match from heaven if you get positive answers to the rest of my questions. If they don't, then it is a show stopper. Yes be friends and maybe even continue to help, but don't expect much direct business as a result. If this is true of most of the people within a group, it's not the right place for you.
I can't stress this enough! Take your time getting to know someone before getting into a referral relationship. The other person will have an expectation that you refer them, so you must be willing to do that in return. If their services, attitude or behaviour means you would not be willing to refer them then move on.
Here's a lovely anecdote given to me by a graphic designer I know. Some time ago he met a web designer who seemed at first meeting to be a perfect referral source. Then this man boasted to him that he had recently "made a killing" by charging a start-up business several thousand pounds for a website that has cost a few hundred pounds for him to produce. To his credit, my graphic designer ended their relationship there and then.
Do they share your passion for your business? Do they even know that you are passionate about why you're in the business you're in? If it doesn't resonate with them, why would they want to help you succeed?
I always remember someone standing up in a networking group and asking the room to help them meet their sales target as they would win a Porsche for the weekend. And no, they didn't even offer a drive in it. Would you be inspired to help? How about being a part of bringing a new simple device to market that saves 50% of your energy consumption and be part of saving our planet for our children.
Are they willing to learn about your business and whom you want to meet? Do they understand how to play the networking game? We know that those who invest in their own skills in referral marketing find giving referrals easy, others do not.
Do they know what's good for you? I recently had someone half listen to me explain what I wanted and then respond by trying to sell me a totally different marketing technique to a totally different market. He actually responded with the statement, "You don't want to do it like that! (For those of you who were around in the '80s in Britain, it reminded me of Harry Enfield sketch character of the Dad Who Knew Best).
Yes, people make time for the things they want to do, hence checking they are inspired in the first place. However, there can be other things going on for that person right now. Maybe they are about to move offices, expand into Europe, need new staff, move house, have a baby, have just had a baby, or are going into hospital? Life sometimes just gets in the way.
Maybe now is the time to help this person out without strings attached, but check some other stuff first. You only have so much time yourself to devote to other people.
I want to end with reference to my favourite business author. Social Psychologist Adam Grant in his book Give and Take makes this point: "The most successful people in business are high givers, however, the least successful people in business are also high givers."
The difference is the successful people also look after their own interests and give to other givers. The least successful people give indiscriminately and discount their own needs. So, be choosy about your referral relationships and check out the people in any networking group you belong to. Are they the right people for you to help and who will reciprocate and help you in return?
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.