“The Power of Networking” by Dr. Earl C. Johnson

The Buzz Word for 2017 is Networking. The longer your net and the harder you work will pay major didvidens this year. Here are some keys to help you get the most out of Networking.

1. Sow the seed. The referral is really secured (or lost) long before you ask for it. What you do in the preliminary stages is what will determine what happens when you ask. I have so much excellent material on what kind of people we need to be in order to get the referrals and build our networks. Remember, you sow the seeds of referrals by being a good person, showing great skills, providing value, behaving professionally and having high integrity and the like. These are the kinds of things that “till the soil.” One other specific thing you can do to sow the seed is to drop a couple of references throughout the relationship that tips your hand that you will be asking for referrals. A good way is to say something like, “Eventually, I am going to ask you if you would help me find a couple of others who may be interested in this kind of thing,” or something similar. This just lets them know it’s coming—but you better deliver the goods or it won’t matter anyway!

2. Give them something first. This is what persuasion and influence expert Robert Cialdini calls the “Law of Reciprocity.” If you want to influence and persuade someone, a very important thing to do is to give them something. This makes them “in your debt,” so to speak. Now, I am not suggesting that you do this simply as an act of manipulation, but just as something that will help both you and the other party, and solidify the mutually beneficial relationship. For example, let’s say that you sell insurance and you are working with a person who is looking to add to their term-life insurance. Let’s say they sell advertising. Do you know anyone in a small business who may be interested in advertising? Then give them that referral! So you might say at your first meeting something like this: “You know, before I tell you about the insurance, I have a friend who is opening a little restaurant in town. He is going to need advertising. You should call him. His name is Fred, and his number is 555-2626. Give him a call and tell him I sent you.” Now, when it is your turn to ask for the referral, what do you think the ad guy is going to do? He is going to give something back to you.

3. Ask. Maybe the main reason you don’t have it is because you haven’t asked for it! This may seem basic, but many people just never ask. They do the deal and say thanks and walk away. If you want to get referrals, you will need to be sure to build the “ask” into the process. Ask everyone! There is never any harm in asking.

4. Be bold. Most of the time you will get to the moment of “ask” and you will just have to reach down deep within yourself and find your guts. You will have to be bold. We always have to remind ourselves to “be bold.”

5. Make it easy. You want the referral process to be as easy as it can for the person who is giving you the referral. Don’t ask them to spend an hour writing down names. Don’t ask them to call you. Don’t ask general questions like, “Do you know anyone who…” As Bob Burg suggests, make it simple by saying something like, “Would any of your Monday afternoon golf partners be interested in…” or “Would any of your siblings like to…” This gives them a small field to think through and makes it easy for them. The question you want to answer is this: How much work am I asking them for?

6. Ensure safety. As I  mentioned earlier, people are looking for safety, both for themselves and the other person. They are protecting their contacts, their time and their reputations. Do you ensure safety? One way to do so is to assure them of that (this assumes you have already shown them that in your own dealings). Here is a sample of what you might say: “I know you have a lot of contacts and value them a lot. I would like to contact a few of them with your permission. I know they are busy and important people, but I would like to call them and see if they have any interest. Obviously, I would treat them with respect and be sensitive to their time. I assure you I that would in no way hard-sell them. Now…” And then comes the “ask.” If you have been safe with them and tell them you will do the same with their contacts, they will be more likely to give you the referral.

7. Be thankful. Be sure to say thanks immediately upon getting the referral. Be sure to send a thank you card or call them a few days later and say thanks. Be sure to keep them posted when you finally do business with their referral. If it is appropriate, send them a gift of thanks when the deal goes through.

You know, when it comes right down to it, getting referrals is just about people skills and human nature. If you study it and play by the rules of human nature, you will get all the referrals you can handle!