I was inspired by a question asked of me by a top producer recently. The question was this: I belong to a referral group that has met once a week for the past 4 months. No sales yet. What could I be missing?

I guess you can see why I didn’t use this as the title. But a great question, nonetheless!

Since I’m not attending the events with him, it’s hard to say what this agent is missing. So, I answered his question with a few more questions. (I’m funny like that.) If you’re a part of a networking group, chamber, association, or whatever, ask yourself the following questions and consider my insight.  

1. Are you attending every meeting?

You can’t just show up to networking meetings when you feel like it. (I’m tempted to use the term willy-nilly.) 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. And how can you focus on developing relationships if you’re not attending enough meetings?

2. Are you paying attention to other members of the group when they’re speaking?

If the meeting is structured (e.g. a hard contact networking group) and attendees get an opportunity to deliver a presentation (some groups offer 30 seconds or a minute), it’s time for you to take note. Yes, literally take notes so you can follow up on what you’re listening to and see who you need to get to know. Why? So you can help them and they can help you. If you are more focused on the bagels and coffee, there are missed opportunities — for everyone!

3. 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 (elevator pitch) 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 (who you want to meet or be connected to). If you can do this and change it up slightly for every meeting, you’re on your way. (HINT: Costumes and props work well!)

4. Are you meeting with other members one-on-one or in small groups? Why should you do this? 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 and refer you lots of business. Focus on the relationship and the business will be there. (Are you seeing a theme?)

5. 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, ensure they are sound — as in they have a great chance of turning into closed business. Otherwise, they may not be referrals.

6. Are you likeable?

This is loaded question, I realize. 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 (like golf), 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.

7. Do you like the other members?

It’s important that you have chemistry with most of the members of any given group; otherwise, they won’t refer you business. It’s just that simple. It might be a good approach to focus on venues that attract those with common interests. For example, become active at a fundraiser because you’re passionate about helping those with Parkinson’s. Typically, true networkers like true networkers, so try to go where they go.

8. Are you clearly communicating the type of business you’re after?

This relates back to the elevator pitch I discussed earlier. You must be specific about what you do and with whom. Why? So your network can help connect you with all the right people. The more specific you are about communicating your message, the easier it will be to get connected.

9. Do some of the 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 or any other similar function, 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 — hence its label, net-work.

Is it time for you to get to work?

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