There are many people that don’t like to network. When I tell my clients that I expect them to attend at least one business-networking event each week, there is an audible gasp. It’s as if I’m asking them to do something insane.
A reason for this distress is that many people do not know how to network the right way. They push business cards at you and expect you to do referral marketing for them. They are loud and aggressive and don’t understand about business referrals. That’s not what referral networking is about.
Expand Your Business Referral Network
Imagine networking as building your Business Referral Network. These Business Referral Networks are the contacts you develop because you attend networking events regularly. You not only attend, but you become involved. Every organization needs and welcomes volunteers. Think about how you can benefit them. Even if it is just a small amount of time, you will develop enduring relationships because others will know that you do what you say you will do and honor your time commitments.
Once you get to know people and they get to know you, you will find several opportunities to offer business referrals. You might refer someone to a potential client, alliance partner, or to a person in the same industry. You might even have a personal referral- to an accountant, a social media consultant or a mechanic- a resource that will help another person. We become referral-marketing sources for others, and others do the same for us.
Although historically referral networking has inspired analysis and dismay, in the end, it’s really about building relationships and being genuine. You network to make friends, sell a product, promote your company, find a job, find new clients, learn the latest from others, or gain more visibility in the business community. Business networking opportunities exist everywhere; at meetings, professional associations, alumni groups, sports groups, community groups, weddings, parties, and any other place where people meet each other.
Expand the Reach of Your Network
During the holidays, we have an exceptional opportunity to meet new people at a very social and joyous time of year. You have many networking events to attend at this time of year. Invite someone you’d like to know better to go along with you. Both of you will benefit from the chance to meet new people and potential contacts.
Remember Woody Allen’s old adage: “Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.” Showing up counts. The more often you show up, the more visible you become, and the more people will get to know and recognize you and your referral network will develop.
Set Real Networking Goals
Your goal should be to attend at least one event per week at which you’ll have an opportunity to meet potential referral sources. Actually, this is a non-negotiable part of my referral marketing strategy. You can attend a breakfast, lunch, or evening networking event-or all three.
I have four goals when attending a business networking event:
1. Meet interesting people
2. Learn something
3. Enjoy yourself
4. Get new clients
If I achieve at least three of these goals-and I make a point to do so-I am ecstatic! You will be, too. So go out there, build your Business Referral Network, and have a great time!
About the Author:
No More Cold Calling’s founder, Joanne Black, began actively consulting with clients in 1996 when she developed a system based on the premise that building relationships and getting referrals generate sales faster and more cost-effectively than cold-calling.
Joanne’s sales, management and training experience spans decades and crosses multiple industries. Her hands-on and no-nonsense approach to the business of sales has made No More Cold Calling a respected and sought-after partner for clients in business-to-business sales.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are strictly those of the author. CPSA does not endorse any of the companies, products and services mentioned within this article.