Marilyn's Networking Tip
Figure out the Best Way to Help
One of the bigger challenges that professionals encounter when attending networking meetings is not only describing the best kind of referral for your business, but finding good referrals for other members. It can stress a lot of people out, and actually keep them from joining a networking group at all.
Even though we at PERE don’t track referrals and are laid back, we obviously want to be able to give them when possible, and to make them quality leads. Like most of the other tips you’ll find, this is dependent on good listening skills. But it’s also about recognizing good referrals when you see them and remembering to follow through on them so you can help the small businesses in your community.
Do what you can to be clear on what another person is saying. It sounds obvious, but communication errors are really common, so consider repeating back what someone has said to make sure you heard them, and ask questions to clarify what they are looking for. For example, say an insurance agent says that a good referral for him is new homeowners, because she can usually lower their rates by a substantial amount and there is a special offer or incentive from her company. But you just don’t know anyone buying a new house. You may still be able to do something for them though. If you know of a real estate agent that works with a lot of new buyers, you could get them in touch with each other. If your homeowners association has a newsletter with add space available, you could help get the insurance agent get into the newsletter to target new people in the neighborhood.
It takes some out-of-the-box thinking to be a business professional and bringing that into networking can make a big difference.