Let’s face it, networking is about you. And yet, that’s the problem. Everyday millions of business seekers walk into networking events with one thing in mind. Themselves. I implore you not to feel guilty. This is totally natural. It’s also totally ineffective. While you shouldn’t apologize for being a product of your baser (and selfish) instincts, you may want to modify them when networking for new business. So, are you out of luck? Are you destined to be a self centered, one-way, “what else can you do for me” sponge? No! Here is some advice on how to manage it. Be Selfish, then Selfless, then Selfish.
Be Selfish. Never walk into an event or enter into a business relationship without knowing what you want from it. Does that sound cold? It’s not. It’s smart. Most people think this way, not all will admit it! This is an exercise for you to complete before ever leaving the office. First, you must know your target market. Does the person you are speaking to represent them, or can they refer you to them. You must have a proven process on how to close that prospect once you meet them. Then, you must know how many of these prospects you need to make your month. Be selfish! However, there is a major caveat here. Keep that selfishness buried way down deep until you have earned the right to bring it back out. This may require biting your tongue and becoming a little (or a lot) more patient.
Be Selfless. What our dear mothers taught us. Now that you have prioritized what it will take to make your business grow, it’s time to motivate someone to think of you in that way in the future. The only way this will happen is if you absolutely lose yourself in your new friend. Have you ever had a conversation with someone who hung on every word you said while making spectacular eye contact? Then every time you met them later, they did it again? I have. Her name is Shelley and she is my financial advisor. We met through BNI, Business Network Int’l. I have known hundreds of financial advisors over the years, and I’ve seen all their fancy charts and graphs. Although, when it came time for me to choose one of them, you’ll never guess what I did. I sat and pondered, which one spent the most time listening to me? Offering support and ideas benefiting me? Shelley taught me a lot here, and she got my business by being Selfless.
Be Selfish. Whew! Some of you were probably getting a little anxious there. Relax, you can be selfish again! Have you ever given a lot of business to someone and gotten nothing in return? The only person you should not be disappointed in doing this for is your parent or a close personal friend. For all others, you’ve earned the right to have the favor returned. So, if you know what you want from that relationship and you’ve made a lot of deposits into it, why are they not reciprocating! Perhaps you have not educated them. Do they understand what kind of referrals you’d like, of what quality, how many, and how you’d like to be introduced? You’ve earned the right, but not given them the knowledge. You’ve not trained your referral partner and that my friend is all your fault.
In the Referral Institute, it is taught that there is a flow to every relationship. Those who are selfish all the time get some short-term business with no referrals from those transactions. That is the problem. They are transactional sellers, not relational sellers. Although, some understand that you must be silently selfish, outlandishly selfless, then when earned, prudently and respectfully selfish again.
Brennan Scanlon is an Executive Director for BNI & Referral Institute franchise owner in Greater Cincinnati. Over the past 13 years Brennan has been training sales people & entrepreneurs on how to harness the power of word of mouth to grow their business. A good referral for him would be a speaking engagement at an organization made up of sales people who need more referrals. He can be reached at www.brennanscanlon.com
With over 5,500 active chapters, and over 100,000 members throughout every populated continent worldwide, BNI is the largest and most successful business referral organization in the world. BNI was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner and the organization, which allows only one person from each profession to join a chapter, offers members the opportunity to share ideas, contacts, and most importantly, referrals. Last year alone, members of BNI passed 6.2 million referrals, generating 2.6 billion dollars’ worth of business.
For more information on BNI, please visit http://www.bni.com/ or call BNI Headquarters at 909.608.7575.
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