Why? Because their attention is drawn to something else. All day, every day, we are bombarded with information and most of it goes straight to the back of our brain and doesn't register.
There is a filter in our brain called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that needs to be activated to bring information to our attention. What it chooses depends on what interests us and what is important to us at that moment.
"A mother can always hear her child crying in the playground. We hear our name across the chatter in a crowded room!"
I remember when my husband and I bought a four door pickup truck to transport our dogs. We had to get the model we wanted imported especially. At least we thought we did. Within a week as we went out and about we saw four more, just the same!
There is a famous experiment by Daniel Simons called the 'Invisible Gorilla' that explains the psychology beautifully. The original experiment got people to watch a basketball game and count how many times the team in white passed the ball.
Afterwards, they were asked if they noticed the gorilla that walked across the court for 9 seconds and most had not. Even if you know the experiment it is well worth taking time out to watch his explanation.
So what happens when we network is we get bombarded with information about lots of people all saying "buy from me" or "refer me to your contacts". We leave the network group with the best of intentions and then get distracted with everything else.
All that information goes straight to the back of our brain and that is where most of it stays. Even when an opportunity to refer one of those people comes along we don't even notice it.
It never gets past our RAS filter, the moment passes and, before you know where you are, the next networking event comes along and you do exactly the same again! All you have done is dilute the information by adding yet more information about yet more people!
"How can you trigger your RAS to help you notice the opportunity?"
Well, give your poor brain a break and focus on just a few people. Network with the same people regularly and get to know them well. Focus on those who you are really motivated to refer. "What's in it for me?" is a perfectly legitimate question to ask yourself! Believe me your brain is answering it whether you realise it or not.
Listen carefully to who they want to meet. Most people are terribly vague about this so you will have to ask some questions. What you are looking for is a few key characteristics that you can use as triggers. So when you hear or see these that person's name pops into your head.
What it is actually doing is getting past your filter! The more times you hear those triggers in association with your contacts the more likely you are to think of them. Your brain likes to take the path of least resistance, so a well-worn path where your contact and the characteristics of their ideal clients are linked together makes it easier for your brain to bring these to the fore when you see or hear about either.
So my Referral Tip this week is to try this exercise and practice doing this. What have you got to lose? Think of someone in your network who you would like to refer.
Pick just one characteristic about the sort of person she or he wants to meet? Maybe the type of industry where their best clients operate, the product they sell, or a particular type of problem they fix.
If you find you can't do this, have a conversation with them to find out. Write down words and images that will remind you of this and place these words and images where you will notice them several times a day. Maybe in your diary, on your screen saver, by your mirror in the bathroom or by the kettle where you make coffee.
Now as you go about your daily business notice how many times you come across new examples of this characteristic. As you're going through your emails, having conversations, visiting your clients, reading posts online, reading the paper, just walking down the street or noticing the logos on the van in front of you in the traffic jam.
Now this may or may not turn into a referral opportunity, but it might be useful information to pass onto your chosen person in any case. At the very least they will know you have been thinking about them.
"And that will always strengthen your relationship!"
I'd love to hear your experience of trying this, so why not call me on 07970 638857, drop me a line or leave a comment below.