As much as our world has changed due to technology, it is still a back scratching world. Meaning we need to be a connector. People get lost in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter self promoting like a life insurance salesman at a wiener roast. The only difference is online you can’t see them physically running from you. People do not like to be sold in person and that doesn’t change online either. We need to learn to be a connector in order to truly grow our business level referrals that ultimately we all want and are looking for online.
To be a connector we must first be willing to help someone else in their business with no expectation of receiving anything in return.” What? That is going to take my precious time and may not get anything in return”. Yes, you heard me correctly, go give of your time and talents to another business owner and expect nothing in return. This goes against the grain of most people. It is the number one rule of networking. BNI, Business Networking International refers to this phenomenon as Givers Gain. Psychologically, if I give you a referral or help you in your business, you will still feel obligated to give me something of value back for my business without expectations. Sometimes, you will need to give a lot in order for this person to reciprocate, but eventually people do reciprocate.
Really good networking takes time, maybe years to build a trust to have an ongoing profitable relationship. It starts with you. No one out there has identified you as the person they want to give to. You must earn that position. After all it is called networking, not net-wishing or net-sitting or net-eating. You have to work at this skill. A good networker goes into to an event with an expectation of helping someone else grow their business. They talk to people to find out how their business works and how they might best be able to help them not the other way around. This is a crucial step to becoming a connector. How can you connect a business with their ideal client unless you take the time to learn about their business enough to identify the perfect referral?
Once the relationship is established the work doesn’t stop. It is just as much work to keep that profitable relationship following referrals and help both ways as it was to initially establish the relationship. It is hard to gain but easy to lose. This person can quite literally become your Goose that laid the Golden Egg. But speaking from experience and having several really good referral sources, it is totally worth it. Most referrals that contact me are buyers, I don’t have to sell any products, and I just help them make their decision with the right product to fit their unique situation. If you want inbound referral business to flow your way, be a connector. There is no short cut.
“A business exists to create a customer”—Peter F Drucker
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Tim Wilhoit is owner/principal of Your Friend 4 Life Insurance Agency in Nashville, TN. He is a family man, father of 3, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger and team leader with over 26 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.