For all business owners, I really want to help you get those contacts you are really looking for.
The best advice I can give is to be as specific as you can be when you ask for contacts that will help your business.
An exercise you can try: look around you at everything that is blue and make a list of these items.
Now imagine I request my business group to find me a contact or referral, which is for everything that is blue- you can immediately spot things right? Imagine that I asked for you to try find any contacts for me or pick out anything in the room, it would be a bit harder for ‘anything’ to come to mind right?
In the context of networking, when you ask for anyone you are likely to get no one because it is not memorable enough to come to someone’s mind. Say an accountant says I am just looking for clients, versus if they say they are looking to work with sports people. This would make a difference as to who comes to mind for them as a potential introduction doesn’t it?
So the trick to getting referrals is to be as specific as you can be. You may worry that if you take this strategy no one will bring you business as it is too specific! In fact, the accountant may be asked, “well, I know you say you want/ sports people, but I know a dance academy looking for a good accountant, is this something you are interested in?” At which point of course you say yes!
The act of being specific conditions a part of your brain that actually is wired that way. It would be too much for us to process all the things around us, so although we actually perceive hundreds of thousands of stimuli, we only process a certain amount depending on how we are conditioned, and the rest is filtered out.
Ok, so now you are specific, you are the accountant who has asked for the sports persons, now your fellow networker is in front of a sports person, what do they say?
If you haven’t helped train them on what to say, it is likely any recommendation will be lost in the wind. We all want to help each other, and it is our jobs to make it as easy as possible for everyone to do that!
The key is to help people to start a conversation about you, so for example, the accountant may have asked us all to ask the sports person about a specific tax rule that will help them save money and if they don’t know about it they should speak to your contact because it means they are loosing out. Remember, your introduction should always answer the ‘”So what” test. That is, it should be clear what is in it for them.
Rita Hemraj is Regional Director for Athena North London, planning a Visitor’s Event March 9th 2011 celebrating International Women’s Day in conjunction with London Digital PR. For more info see http://tiny.cc/Visitors_Event
The Athena Network facilitates structured networking meetings for professional business women. Members recognise that networking is a critical factor in the growth & development of their business....