About a week ago, I received a phone call from a Management Consultant who was very specific in articulating that the customer she was working with- wanted a ‘Gallup Certified Strengths Coach’ for the purpose of developing leadership skills of few senior team members. I was happy to pursue the conversation further & during the course of it- happened to ask her as to how she got my reference? She named two people, of which I knew only one & had last met him more than 3 years ago- from where he remembered that I am a ‘Gallup Certified Strengths Coach’ & upon being asked for one- he referred my name to the seeker, who in turn passed it on to the lady who called me! This is a classic reinforcement of the fact that meeting people always helps & it can take time for things to happen favourably. My belief in networking got further strengthened with this pleasant anecdote & led me to share some things I have learnt over the years as a networker.
- Fruits from networking take time: you have read in the above stated example that the spade work was done 3 years prior & how one thing led to another.
- Its always great to meet new people: this has never been my strength but I have realized that meeting new people for a networker is as good as breathing oxygen to survive- yes, that’s how much is the correlation!! You never know who would bring you what, simply because there is no way to know who has what quality of network. These are things we find out only once when we make credible business relationships.
- A person is a network: once we start to look at people as not just solitary individuals but as people who have a matrix of people behind them, the whole perspective changes. Once a trusting relationship is established, one gets access to the individual’s network.
- Looks & professions are no indicators: how a person looks or what the person’s profession is- has absolutely nothing to do with the referrals you can get. Simple because, we have no science indicating to us as to what might the network of the person look like. A guess or a half baked judgment on the looks of a person or profession will prove to be counter productive.
- Trust takes time: when you trusted a person last, how much time did you take for it? Did you instantly start to trust the person or did you take time? Did you evaluate the person in various dimensions before attaching your name to that person or did you instantly refer the person to a prospective customer? You have the answer already I am sure, nevertheless I shall articulate it for you. People will take their time to trust you & like you and once they do, they will be very hapy to refer you!
- No one is bound: none of the people you meet during the course of networking owe you a referral. In fact, whether or not they wil refer you is a function of the trust & likeability you have built with them along with a compelling value proposition that inspires them to refer you. In fact it must inspire them to refer you in a manner that they feel their personal credibility will get enhanced in the eyes of the person being referred to!
- Coach the networking partner: for a person to feel truly inspired to refer you, you must take pains in coaching the networking partner on where to look & how to spot an opportunity & what exactly to say whilst initiating a conversation- right up to making an appointment for you. If you expect your networking partner to speak about you like you speak about yourself & your work, you will need to consciously educate your networking partner.