Being a member of a networking group or having a presence on social media is only the first step to developing referral relationships that produce results. To make the most of your networking investments, it’s important to devote some quality effort into deepening those important business associations.
Here are 4 actions guaranteed to strengthen your networking relationships:
1. Identify those with whom you share a target audience. Let’s face it, not all participants in a networking situation are created equal. Investing time, energy, and effort into those relationships less likely to generate referrals for your business are not the best investment. Consider those with whom you share a networking association. Who is most likely to serve the same client base as you AND refer potential clients to you? Even though you share a common target audience, it doesn’t mean the other person provides referral. The best connection is someone who is able to think outside themselves and their business to consider supporting the success of others – including their clients.
2. Do your homework. After you’ve identified your potential referral partners, research their companies. Check out their work. Understand who they are, what they provide, and whom they serve. Your research will reveal the best jumping off point for a productive referral relationship and demonstrate your interest in collaborating with them.
3. Schedule a get-to-know-you appointment. Be the first to reach out in a way that demonstrates your desire to go the extra mile. If meeting face-to-face, meet on their turf and pick up the tab. If meeting by phone, initiate the call. As simple as it sounds, these all-important relationship developers are easily over-looked. During the meeting, demonstrate your desire to give – not just receive. Ask questions about who they are, whom they serve and how you can support them. Be curious about them and their business. Make your initial focus of the conversation on their business before turning the spotlight on yours.
4. Follow-up. A simple “thank you” note following your meeting goes a long way in demonstrating your professionalism. It also speaks volumes about what kind of treatment any referral they provide to you will receive.
The bottom line when it comes to networking? You need to be able to put something into a networking relationship before expecting to receive a return.
What is your best networking investment tip?
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