Some networking groups use slips of paper to note down business connections and referrals to new contacts for members. At CBC it’s certainly not compulsory, however it does make a difference.
The reason it makes a difference is threefold.
Firstly, it helps the person making the referral remember what they have promised to do, and we all know that it’s so easy to simply forget these things when we get back out into our day to day business, so having a slip of paper with the details to hand does help the brain to stay focused.
Secondly, the person who receives the referral knows what to expect and can make preliminary preparations such as researching the contact’s website or social presence to get a feel for their brand. It also means they are prepared for the contact and it’s far more engaging to show recognition and interest when the referee makes contacts, which they usually do fairly soon after the recommendation.
Thirdly, it gives a fairly informal means of the group keeping an eye on how they are doing, a kind of taking the temperature of business in general, and raising concerns if any particular member doesn’t appear to be getting relevant introductions. It’s a great way of learning too; for instance, if one or two members are making a lot of validated, quality referrals, other members can gain inspiration from looking at how they do that, and overall the group can develop and hone their listening and connecting skills to ensure everyone is getting value from their membership.
Jay Blake, Take One TV, is an experienced networker; he would say it’s pretty much a part of his life blood and certainly something that he enjoys; nonetheless, it is something that needs effort and dedication to build the trust that ultimately leads to business referrals. Jay finds business networking an inspiring and engaging activity, he treats every meeting as a business meeting and his top tips for a succcessful networking are:
Always check out the venue the day before and ensure you are there on time, or even a little early. Often the most productive part of a meeting is that first free networking session where you can catch up with people, make appointments and sound out on ideas. Secondly, listen as much as you talk, actually listen more than you talk! If you can practice actively listening you’ll find it much easier to connect with people, and thirdly, be there regularly and be patient because it is only through regular and reliable attendance, active listening and the willingness to give before you get, that you’ll build the trust and rapport that leads to quality business referals.