A lot of people tend to treat their networking partners like clients. They focus on selling themselves or their service to the group which is ok, but highly limiting as you can exhaust the potential quite quickly. The idea is to educate your network on who they can refer you to and how they can do it. In short, thinking of your networking group as your sales force can be much more productive.
BNI founder Dr. Ivan Misner recommends his ‘3+1 Process of Networking’ to be incorporated in your networking strategy to make the most of this idea.
- Anyone to someone
Very often one hears things like ‘anyone who needs… ‘ or ‘someone who wants to…’ at a networking event. Such openings might feel very open ended, but can backfire because they are too generic. Too broad a description can limit the results you get.
- Go Specific
The more details you share the better your referrals. Be specific about what you offer. Walk your network through your services one by one instead of saying you do it all. Take the time to introduce them to the key elements of your business so that they understand you better. The more they know you, the better they will know who to and how to refer you. And detailed and informed referrals always stand out better than general ones.
- Talk about your ‘Dream Referral’
Who is your dream referral? What would she or he be like? Share a very detailed description with your network. Talk about them as frequently as possible, building a descriptive picture. The more the people in your network understand what your dream referral is like, the more chances they will be able to identify the best referral for you when they come across them.
Along with this, make sure you share Customer Stories. By sharing details of your current clients, you can illustrate better what your current position and requirement is; and also help them understand better if you want any changes. See if it might be possible to arrange for an interaction with your existing client who best match what kind of referrals you are looking for. Such interactions will go a long way in reinforcing your ideal referral’s image within the members, and help generate better deals for you.
The better you educate your network about the kind of referrals you are looking for, the better the quality of the referrals you get. More importantly, they will have a better chance of becoming closed deals rather than if you keep trying to sell only to your network. So remember to talk about your dream referral as often as possible, and make sure you are as specific as possible to get the best from your network.