Networking Skills: It Pays To Be Patient
It really is a virtue ...
Posted by Jacky Sherman on 01/06/2022 @ 8:00AM
This series of blog posts is all about learning networking skills from the front line. Here's a lovely one with a very happy ending ...
When it comes to your networking skills, patience really does pay!
copyright: stockbroker / 123rf
I was approached by a member of my network group at the end of the meeting. Could she come and see me? She recounted that since starting her own consultancy she'd been really busy until about 3 months ago when the work had just dried up.
"Well with a series of hold-ups it took a few weeks before
we actually sat down together!"
She was slightly embarrassed, she told me. Since she spoke to me she'd had three referrals which had turned into big pieces of new work so felt she had brought me out on false pretences.
Ho hum, not every request to talk to me turns immediately into business. We could use this coffee break to analyse what she'd done to get those three referrals.
Nothing. Well, at least nothing direct like asking for help. However, she noted that all 3 introductions came from people with whom she had built strong relationships since starting her own business, And for all three this was the first time they had referred her.
So, here were two confirmations of what we stress to all our clients. Focus on building your relationships and the work will follow. Oh, and be patient as it may take some time. In her case, nothing for the two years she'd know them, and then like London Buses three came along at the same time.
Let's take building the relationship as a given. We know it's essential to get referrals, but what made it take such a long time? Let's tease that out and explore what you can do to shorten the time before people refer you.
Those three people had been primed to refer her over a year ago, and yet, even when she really needed help it had taken them 3 months to come forth. Well, maybe they just didn't know anyone who was in need of my friend's services until now? Maybe that it was pure coincidence that they all spotted an opening for her at the same time?
So, what can you do to shorten the odds that your contacts will know someone? Increase the number of people with whom you have a good relationship and know the sort of people you want as clients.
Even if you shorten the odds, some of those people will take longer to start referring you to their contacts. It depends on their behavioural style. Some people will refer quickly whilst others may want longer to suss you out. To speed this up, pay attention to their style and make sure you're giving them the knowledge of what you offer and the evidence to back up your claims.
Increase the amount of contact you have with them, however, take care not to be too pushy with people who like time to work things out. It will actually make them slower not faster to refer you!
"My networking group member also let people know
she needed more work!"
However, it took her 3 months to admit to me that she needed referrals and several weeks more before sitting down with me to discuss this. As someone used to being self-sufficient, asking for help was not her style. However, when you've built the relationship first and done things for these other people, asking for help can be the tipping point that spurs people into action on your behalf.
So, my advice to you is whilst there is a need to be patient when building your referral network, you can also reduce the delay between getting to know people and stimulating referrals. Focus on building your relationships, particularly with people who can help you. Make sure you're helping them too.
And don't be afraid to ask for help when you first need it.
Until next time ...
Would you like to know more?
If you'd like to find out more about how your networking skills can build long-term referrals then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's see how I can help you.
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