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Networking 101 – Lead by Example

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I have one particular friend (let’s call her Jane) who consistently refers me to people. Quite honestly, in the last two months alone she has sent 3 entrepreneurs to me. Strangely enough, she only has a slight inkling of what it is that I do, but she has read some of my articles in the newspaper and the result of that is the minute she comes into contact with someone who owns a business, she insists that they have to meet me and we need to ‘talk’! Now that’s the kind of friends we all want, I am sure you would agree.

Here’s the thing though, the people who we are most familiar with, and I am talking about family and friends here, are often the ones that very seldom give us referrals. Apparently this is because with family and friends the relationships that we have with them is of a more personal nature and because of this it often does not even occur to them to refer business to us, unless we specifically make a point of asking for it or reminding them.

On of the biggest problems, I am led to believe, is that although our friends and family love us and think the world of us, they have also seen us at our absolute worst and they may not be comfortable with referring us to one of their friends ‘in case’ we embarrass them. In some cases, no matter how much they respect, admire and even trust us, they do not want to mix business with personal relationships. Even worse, many may not understand how to refer us.

This ‘non-understanding’ may not be confined to family and friends either – many of our colleagues and indeed, people who we see at Networking meetings all the time, may not have the slightest idea of how to ‘refer’ business to us.

Networking individuals who are inexperienced, often don’t think about looking for referrals except through their existing customers and whilst getting those referrals is not a bad thing, it does mean that the number of referrals that they get or give is seriously limited. On the other hand there are some very experienced Networkers who go to Networking meetings on a regular basis and they think that the only referrals they are going to get will come from the people or members that they encounter at the meetings. That’s also limiting ourselves badly.

In order to get the most out of Networking, we have to put the most in and that means that we have to lead by example. We have to refer business to our colleagues, our friends, our family and also strangers that we have just met. By doing this we demonstrate a ‘willingness’ to share information and add value to their lives and pretty soon they will start sharing with us too.

We also need to remind people on a constant basis, that we are always looking for business and there are many ways to do this. Keeping in touch by means of say a Newsletter, reminds people that we are out and about. Asking for testimonials is also a good way to not only remind the person giving us the testimonial, what a good job we did for them, but letting others see those testimonial shows people that we can be trusted too.

So get busy today, remind people who we are and don’t forget to ‘ask’ people to refer us. We’ll be amazed at the results.