Think about the referrals you have passed. What was the genesis of that referral? More than likely, the referral involved your listening skills more than any other variable.

First, you probably heard a friend, colleague or peer talk about his or her business and what their needs are. If you were truly listening, that registered in your memory on a certain level.

Next, in your travels–be it at your place of business, networking group, coffee shop, etc.–you heard somebody express a need for a certain product or service. You interjected and said, “I know somebody who might be able to help you!” And that is how a lead/referral is born.

So, if you’re in a networking group and you’re wondering why you have not received a referral, perhaps you’re not asking the right question. Maybe you should be asking, why have I not passed a referral?

Clearly, there are exceptions to this rule, but when it comes to referrals you have to give to receive. And the only way you can give is to know what people want or need. That you can only do by listening.

Now, there’s probably not one of us who has paid attention to every single word every person has said at a networking meeting. We should, but we don’t. Fortunately, it’s an area where you can improve quite easily.

Make it a point to listen at your next networking meeting. Bring a notebook and be sure to write down at least one type of referral your fellow members are looking for as each gives his or her elevator pitch. You would be surprised how much registers in your memory when you put it in writing. From there, all you really have to do is go about your life and business and just listen–the opportunities are out there.

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