We all hear about how important networking is to growing a business. Today, maybe more than ever, with the explosion of social media, having a solid network of referral and referral sources is critical to sustaining business growth. Networking is a skill that does not come natural. As the word suggests, it takes hard work and a lot of giving not taking, in order to receive good business. Most people are not good networkers, simply because they never take the time to learn the basics.
There are 3 stages of networking and they can change at any time. A good networker knows where they stand with each person in their network every week. It can takes years to find a profitable referral partner and minutes to lose them. Be sure you work your network every week.
- Visibility—these are people in your network that know who you are and may know what you do, but that’s about it. It’s 100% up to you to educate your referral source, not theirs. You must also educate them on how to bring you up in conversation or what phrases to listen for in order to be referred.
- Credibility–Just because the referral source knows who you are is not enough. They need to know you are trustworthy. Do you do what you say you’ll do, when you say you’ll do it? Do you under promise and over deliver? You can be well known, but if you are not credible, you will not get enough referrals to ever matter. Building credibility takes time and effort in order to have a strong referral source.
- Profitability–If you have a good referral source that you are both visible and credible, you must work hard to become profitable? Meaning how can this person constantly flow business my way? Again, this takes time and commitment. If you live your life with a giving philosophy, this can be easier than you realize.
This philosophy of giving is psychological. “If I give enough business to you, you will want to give business back to me.” BNI is an organization I would highly recommend for any salesperson or business owner looking to grow their business. Not only will you learn the skill of networking, but you will put it into practice every week. Now that you understand a bit more about VCP, what stage is your network?
“Referrals are very powerful. When I refer you, I give a little bit of my reputation away. If you do a good job, my friend that hired you is pleased. But if you do a bad job, that reflects badly on me. People forget that.”—Ivan Misner
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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, grandfather of 2, entrepreneur, insurance agent, life insurance broker, employee benefit specialist, salesman, sales trainer, recruiter, public speaker, blogger, author and team leader with over 30 years of experience in sales and marketing in the insurance and beverage industries.