Last week I talked about how networking and attitude can make the best of a down economy.  Attitude goes a long way.  But, the other side of the equation is Action.  You will find that it doesn't have to be dramatic either. 

But you have to understand that we are creatures of habit.  We are stuck in a rut so the first thing we need to do is choose to get out of the rut.  We do this with simple action. 

Here are some actions as they apply to networking.

Diversification:  In regards to networking this can be other networks or clubs or associations.  Like a building this will provide a solid foundation for your business to build on.  An example would be other networking groups.  Also, several people in this room are members of OC Association of Realtors as well as BTN. This increases your networking potential.

Work the Group: To do this you need to know the situation and use a technique that is appropriate.  Networking at a Chamber of Commerce function would be different than at a Business meeting.  A BTN Fundraiser vs. a BTN meeting would require a different approach as well.

Prepare Your Sales Force:  Yes, in essence, that is exactly what you are doing. You are teaching people how to refer you.  So you must be prepared to explain what you do.  One way to do this is practice your 30 second commercial and be prepared to give them a couple of business cards as well.

Contact Sphere:  In the networking world it refers to a group of professionals or businesses that are noncompetitive and create a symbiotic relationship.  A good example is BTN, but they don't have to be that large.   A small group such as a Baker, Photographer, Caterer, Florist, and Travel Agent, could bounce leads back and forth when it comes to weddings and graduations.

That covers attitude and action, but there is one more thing you need, consistency.  As I previously stated, we are creatures of habit.  You can choose to get out of that rut.  But it is consistency that will keep you from falling back in. 

Soon you will create a new habit building your business by word of mouth.

Networking Not Commiserating

The economy goes through cycles.  Those of you who can think back to the last recession or two or three, may recall that each time seemed a little different.  But was it? 

What have we learned from past experiences?  We know that a recession never lasts forever, there is light at the end of the tunnel. There is the finger pointing and the people complaining about wages, companies laying off.  Then there is a shake-out of businesses and foreclosures.  Then there is a period of great prosperity to follow for a good seven to ten years.

So what really changed?  It was us.  We changed.   We have the capacity to change and to adapt to learn from our past.   Our mind won't let us think and make decisions the way we did when we were 20 or 30 years old.  That is why each time seems a bit different. 

Well here is one other thing I have noticed.  During each recession there are always some people, who do well.  Dare I say, they in fact thrive.

These are people who, while competitors are singing the blues, they are talking about the opportunities to be had.  They are finding business where their competitors couldn't.

There is old adage… Misery loves company.  

What possible good can come of it.  Most people don't care how bad your business is doing.  The ones that do, are glad that they are doing better than you!

But make the best of what you have, show someone an opportunity or be a little optimistic and people will notice.  It is in our DNA.  They will have no choice but to be drawn to you .    

Referrals will keep your business afloat through hard times and soaring during good times. 

I know I can't control Wall Street, or my competitors or the weather or economy.  But what I can control is attitude and outlook.  

I challenge you, to refuse to get caught up in all the negativity.  Learn better networking skills and grow your business by “Networking” not “Commiserating”

Three Types of Referrals

There are many different kinds of referrals.  They vary in quality according to how much of a rapport or relationship the person who is referring you has cultivated with your prospective customer.   Here are a few good examples.

A)    “I Know _______.  They do great work.  I know you will like them”.  In this scenario you have authorized someone to use your name. You can feel fairly certain that they have established a good level of credibility with the prospective client.  By allowing them to say that he or she endorses your product or service, you gain valuable leverage with the prospects that know them

B)    A meeting is arranged. They have taken it one step further, taking the responsibility of working out the details of getting you and the prospective client together to discuss business.

C)    “Slam Dunk”.  In this scenario, the sale is closed before you even contact the prospective client.  This is networking at its best.  This is indicative of a strong relationship between not only the person referring you to the customer, but also a strong relationship between you and the person referring you.  

The type of referrals you receive often depends on the relationships that you nurture. The best nurturers make the best networkers, who incidentally, make the most slam dunks.