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Networking, The Client-builder

By: Bryan Durocher
Posted: January 28, 2010, from the November 2009 issue of
Handshake

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Once you are giving a steady stream of business to your networking partners, they will feel obligated to do the same. The key to successful networking is to build relationships with each member in the group. This takes time, and your best efforts will come from setting up one-on-one meetings with other members. Have lunch with them, or visit their respective businesses. Arrive with a mental list of questions you can ask on how you can best support their needs, and work with them from there.

Commit

Participating in all aspects of the networking group is key. Most groups have some form of networking training or mentoring available—take advantage of this. Very few people are brilliant networkers right from the start. Many groups will walk you through the process of creating a dynamic presentation and how specifically to ask for your ideal and best client. Use this opportunity to learn from the group’s other successful individuals.

Also, the more involved you are within the group, the more referrals you will get. Learning to understand the difference between a lead and a referral is also a time-saving technique. A referral is where one of your networking partners has found someone who has a need for your service, done some qualifying of the prospect, given them your information or business card, and told them you will follow up with a call. When you call, the referral will know who you are and is open to doing business with you.

A lead is where someone gives you a name but has not spoken to a person specifically about you. If the group you are in consistently appears to be turning over leads instead of referrals, consider switching groups or diversifying your interests. You may be able to reach out to a broader pool of prospective patients.

Build relationships

Though networking vastly enhances your odds of receiving positive responses, building rewarding relationships can take time. Remember one great relationship is not enough, as circumstances can change quickly. The foundation of a strong network is based on trust and establishing a history of mutual assistance. Maintaining communication with professionals you connect with is crucial. Through regular and consistent follow-up, you can stay updated on their changing needs and remind them of your own.