Deadline is March 9. Winners will be announced on March 17.
That’s probably a question you have never been asked or even thought about. We are asking you now, specifically what do they do that makes them a great networker? Do you know? Have you ever asked them? Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it also provides a lit pathway to success if you are willing to follow.
So, here’s an exercise for you if you want to grow as a networker. Target one or two of the best networkers you know. Invite them to have a one-on-one. Then, instead of asking about their business, ask for one or two tips on how they go about networking.
If that feels a little awkward, drop them a note first to let them know what you’re interest in. Say something like:
I consider you to be one of the best networkers I know. Would you be willing to take a minute or two on the phone or maybe grab a cup of coffee to discuss your approach to networking? I’d really appreciate it…”
You would be surprised how responsive people will be to such requests. Why? Because good networkers know that the most critical component to networking is effort. If you’re putting forth the effort to seek their guidance to grow your network, it actually will help grow their network even more. And that’s when networking is a win for everybody.
That’s a question we have asked at several My Pinnacle Network meetings this month. The response from one of the attendees at My Pinnacle – Plymouth caught yours truly off-guard:
“The best referral I ever gave was you,” said John Adams, of Adams Communications. “I introduced you to Steve Dubin.” (Footnote – Steve and I have now worked together for over 10 years to build PR Works, a full-service public relations and advertising company. Additionally, we launched My Pinnacle Network approximately one year ago and have expanded the network to 11 locations. Yes, I’d have to say, that was a pretty good introduction.)
Technically, it was more of a cold lead and one other person (Stephanie Gray) had recommended Steve as well. Still, there’s no way either John or Stephanie could have known the career/life-altering impact this referral might bring. They did it because they were following the fundamentals of good networking:
Now, if you knew that every introduction/referral you made had the potential for a long-term working relationship and eventually a partnership, you’d go that extra mile every time you made an introduction, right? The point is, you never know where a simple introduction might lead. But if you do it as a practice, as John and Stephanie did/do, good things can happen.
Think about the referrals you have passed. What was the genesis of that referral? It involved your listening skills more than anything else.
First, you probably heard a friend, colleague or peer talk about his or her business what their needs. 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 interject and say, “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?
While 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.
There’s probably not one of us who 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 for each member as they give their 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 listen.
Last week’s topic discussing the correlation between gratitude in elevator pitches and success in networking groups struck a real chord with readers. This week’s topic is essentially the opposite of gratitude: resentment. And it can be a death sentence to not only leads, but can cast a cloud over an entire networking group.
If you have been in a networking group for any length of time and done your share of one-on-ones, you might hear grumblings from fellow members about certain members not passing them business. These grumblings can get even louder if your fellow member has passed leads to the member they are complaining about. As somebody who has a vested interest in the overall success of your networking group, it’s your job to get your fellow member off the “whine without the cheese”.
That’s not saying they might not have a beef. Yet complaining about somebody not passing referrals never solved the problem. If anything, it creates an animosity that casts a cloud over your group and makes others uncomfortable—and that diminishes the effectiveness of the group.
So, what do you do? Whether it’s you feeling this way or a fellow group member, suggest taking a good look in the mirror and asking a few questions:
If you go through this series of questions and come up with blank, set up another one-on-one with your fellow networking member (you can do as many of those as you need, there is no limit). Be direct, but without being accusatory or hostile. For example, you might say:
“I was hoping we’d be good sources of leads and referrals for each other. Is there anything you can tell me about your business that might help me pass more referrals your way?”
Granted, this is not really addressing the problem. But once they answer that question, most people will reciprocate and ask how they can help you. That should lead to a discussion that will get you an answer. Nine times out of 10, the answer will not be directly about you, but something about them.
What you really want to get out of this exercise is an answer that can cease the resentment. A good rule of thumb in life and networking groups—if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Grumbling about what you’re not getting from other group members typically makes you look as bad as the person you’re complaining about. And the last thing you want is that frustration giving other members of your group a reason to hesitate in passing referrals to you, too.
When searching for a networking group, many people seek out groups where they don’t know any of the members, the logic being why network with people you already know. Knowing at least a few people in a networking group is precisely what you DO want for any number of reasons.
First, a familiar face or two makes your transition into any group smoother, particularly if the people you know have established relationships with others in the group. So, when setting up 1-1’s you’re not “the new guy” but the “friend of John/Jane”. And that can be enough of an icebreaker to develop your own relationships within the group.
That’s one obvious advantage of knowing people before you enter a networking group. Another is getting to know your friend/acquaintance better because you are now in a networking group with them. Maybe there’s a service they have recently added since the last time you talked? Perhaps you didn’t know they went to a certain college or worked at that company before going into business on their own?
When you join a networking group, you want to hit the ground running and get to know people in your group as quickly as possible. Especially the folks in your sphere of influence. By knowing people in an existing group, you have insights that you wouldn’t otherwise have had you not known anyone.