One of the things that I always tell people when I Network, is that they need to treat people in the same manner that they themselves would like to be treated – it’s common courtesy and I promise you it will go a long way towards building good relationships. Actually if the truth be told, it is essential to treat all relationships like this, not just your Networking relationships – so that means your referral sources (usually to be found when Networking), your prospective clients, your current clients, your suppliers (who knows – one day they may very well become your clients too) your partners and so on.
We all have our own way of doing things and we all have our own personalities and as much as we would like people to understand how and why we do the things in the way that we do them, so too should we try and understand why people do things the way that they do them. Remember though that you are the one looking for the referral, so you are the one that has to make the most compromise and bend over backwards the furtherest.
Try and find out as much as you can about your prospect. The internet is a great place to find as much information as there is available. Knowing the likes and dislikes of your prospect will mean that you are in a far better position to answer questions and give the requested information, without alienating anyone.
The secret of turning a referral prospect into a current client is to find, develop and use all the tools that you can. It may be as simple as finding the right venue for your first meeting to how you present yourself in your personal capacity and how professional you are in your work space.
Getting yourself connected to some local (in South Africa) Networking groups such as (but not limited to) Business Engage (www.businessengage.co.za) or the Real Entrepreneur (www.entrepreneur.co.za) or even the local chambers, and making sure that you attend the various functions, workshops and Networking events will ensure that you have a constant supply of referrals and also prospects.
Remember that you don’t have to just Network with like minded people, but that there are a number of diverse people out there that could possibly surprise you with who they are connected to.
Above all, remember to have fun!