Building a productive network doesn’t require you to know a lot of people. It just requires that you know the right people. On occasion, I’ve mentioned “Drive-By Networking.” Most of us have experienced the Drive-By: Networking Man swoops in on your conversation and opens up at the cyclical rate with who he is and what latest and greatest product or service he represents. He quickly screens you as a prospect, listening only long enough to determine whether to go for the close or move on to the next victim. Cards and brochures are passed (yours stuffed into a pocket) and poof, he’s gone. They may follow up with a canned “It was good to meet you” email with an offer to set an appointment if you are interested in learning more about them. Networking Man knows a ton of people.
Then there is Smart Networker who networks with a purpose. They know who the right people are for them to know because they have clearly defined their market. They have a clear compelling message and are focused on meeting the right people. They get to know those people and seek ways to contribute to their success. Their follow up is personalized and offers something of value.
There has been debate about what is better with a network: broad or deep. Numbers are important, don’t get me wrong. Most sales people suffer as the results of too few names in their database. They don’t have enough leads. But going deep with people who you expect to provide you with referrals is what makes it work. Go deep with the right people and you’re on your way to good things. Smart Networker has a broad network but more importantly, has the right people in that network.
One of the things in life that we are pretty sure of is, “To know me is to love me.” Most people who get to know you end up liking you. So being the lovable person that you are, why aren’t you getting more referrals? Well, one of the reasons could be that you have the wrong expectations.
When we think of referrals we know we want them, and maybe even how many we want. But where will we get them? We belong to referral groups. We have clients who can refer us. We network. We have friends and colleagues. But identifying these sources isn’t enough. They must know how to refer us. And that is our responsibility.
Knowing how to refer us has a couple of aspects: who is a good referral and what is the process for making the referral? Our trouble starts with our expectation that everyone can and will refer us to good prospects.
It is not reasonable to assume that everyone will be able to refer business to us. There are many reasons why this might be so.
- They may not know we are looking for referrals.
- They may not have contact with our target market.
- They may not be inclined to make referrals.
- They may not know enough about us.
- They may not know enough about our product or service.
- They don’t know what to say.
If you are expecting referrals from someone, some of the first questions to be asked are, “Does this person have contact with my Target Market?” and “Do they engage with my Target Market in a way that enables them to recommend me?” There are many people we like and who like us. And many people ask us to tell them how they can help us. But many of these people are able to refer us only occasionally and randomly.
Are your expectations for referrals in alignment with your relationships and with the ability and desire of the people in your network to refer you?