A financial planner recently asked me: “I belong to a referral group that has been meeting once a week for the past four months. No sales yet. What could I be missing?”
It’s hard to say what this planner is missing because I’m not attending the meetings with him. That said, I answered his question with a few more questions. If you’re a part of a networking group, chamber, association, or whatever, ask yourself the following questions.
Are you attending every meeting?
You can’t just show up to networking meetings when you feel like it. You must be an active and frequent participant. Remember, it’s all about the relationship. If you focus on relationship, the business will be there. How can you focus on developing relationships if you’re not attending enough meetings?
Are you paying attention to other members of the group when they’re speaking?
If the meeting is structured and attendees get an opportunity to deliver a presentation (some groups offer 30 seconds or a minute), literally take notes so you can follow up on what you’re listening to and learn who you need to get to know. Why? So you can help them and they can help you. If you and other members are more focused on the bagels and coffee, there are missed opportunities for everyone!
Are fellow members paying attention to you?
You can only expect this privilege if you pay attention to them (see above). That said, you must deliver a meaningful presentation that is articulate, a bit entertaining, planned, focused and with a call to action. A good model I’ve referred to in the past is the PEEC statement—your Profession, Expertise, Environments (target market), and Call to Action. If you can do this and change it up slightly for every meeting, you’re on your way. TIP: Costumes and props work well.
Are you meeting with other members’ one on one or in small groups?
Why? So you can learn more about them and their businesses. So you can learn how to refer them business. So you can get to know what they do when they’re not talking business. So you can build solid relationships. So they can get to know you too. Focus on the relationship and the business will be there.
Are you generating referral business to other members?
One of the best ways to establish trust and build relationships is to refer other group members business. But first, you must make sure they are absolutely awesome at what they do. Speak to their clients and see what they say. Also, when you generate referrals, insure they are sound, as in they have a great chance of turning into closed business. Otherwise, they may not be referrals.
Are you likeable?
This is tough. Do you like talking to other people? And do they like talking to you? Typically these dynamics go hand in hand. If you like hanging out with others and you find yourself laughing a lot, getting introduced to others, and being invited to outside events, this is a good sign. If this is not the case, you want to be honest with yourself. Ask for direct feedback from those you trust to determine how you might come across to other people. Although it may not be the thing you want to hear, it might be what you need to hear. And then, work on that.
Do other members come in contact with the type of business you want to do?
Are there successful centers of influence or referral sources (CPAs, attorneys, property and casualty brokers, etc.) in the group that you’re building positive relationships with? If not, why? Should there be? Can you invite them and get them to become members?
If you’re attending networking meetings, chamber mixers, association functions, speed networking events and other venues, ask yourself these questions and be honest with your answers. Can you look at yourself in the mirror and say you’re taking all of these approaches? Networking requires work, as in net-work.
Is it time to get to work?
Building Blocks Consulting LLC