A while back, I discussed some Great Habits to Grow Your Business. That was along with a discussion about Hoboken, New Jersey, people watching, Frank Sinatra, stopping at red lights, sunshiny days, the New York City skyline, and a pack of cigarettes.
By the way, you shouldn’t smoke. Very bad for you.
Anyway, I promised “5 More Great Habits to Grow Your Business.” So here they are!
1. Take notes.
Probably about 10 years ago, I delivered a training session for a group of new financial advisors with an insurance industry training legend, the late Jack Kinder. As it turns out, there was a mistake on the agency’s training schedule and in essence we were double booked. Instead of letting my time go to waste (he was there first), Jack insisted that I share some of his time which was quite the honor.
I spoke for 90 minutes about networking and Jack was taking notes the whole time. Here you have an industry legend that had been training sales teams for decades and, at 76 years old, was taking notes. When at meetings, take notes and capture terms, phrases, and ideas. You’re never too old or too experienced to learn and taking notes is an attractive quality.
2. Really try to help others.
When you’re at meetings, especially when you’re in a position to network, have the mentality to listen, learn, and potentially help. Again, an attractive quality. How can you help others? Good question. Just ask!
When introducing yourself to others, ask questions about their background, experience, current business, objectives, how they learned of the event you’re both attending, who they’re looking to meet, who refers them business, perfect clients, favorite color, sports team, whatever. Just have fun conversations (about them!) that make sense and, if the time is right and you feel a good connection with them, offer to help. I find that if you help the right people with the right things, they help you right back. That’s how it works! And you’ll find by helping you’ll end up meeting more of the right people. That’s also how it works.
3. Discuss referrals from a place of “we.”
There’s lots of ways of generating more referral business and introductions. Most sales producers, including financial advisors, insurance agents, brokers, and realtors are reluctant to ask for referrals because they’re afraid to appear needy or to hinder the relationship in any way.
Some of those fears are valid, but if you’re open to establishing a relationship where you might exchange referrals, well, that’s a bird of a different color. It might sound something like this, “It seems we’re both focused on similar industries and ultimately meeting some of the same types of people. Would you be open to discussing how we might exchange referrals moving forward?”
Coming from a place of “we” changes the whole dynamic of a conversation. It can transform a conversation from feeling transactional to relational. A two way street! Isn’t that what a relationship should be?
4. Promise to follow up.
When you meet people and make business connections, if there is a reason to follow up or follow through, make the declaration to do so. And do it. Don’t ever rely on someone else to do the following up. It’s on you, baby. As you do the business card exchange, make a promise and offer a time frame. “Let’s exchange business cards and I promise to follow up with you on Monday to discuss how we might refer each other more business.” Follow up starts when you’re still face-to-face, nose-to-nose, belly-to-belly. Not when you’re back at the office shuffling through business cards trying to figure out who is who. Remember, it’s a process.
5. Stay in touch.
Keeping in contact with your network requires work and a conscious decision to do so. If you’re active on LinkedIn, Facebook, or whatever, you can passively stay in touch with those in your network who pay attention to social media.
But, for the 50 (or whatever your number is) most important prospects, referral sources, and clients, a more active strategy probably makes sense. How are you staying in touch with your Top 50? Is it a phone call a day? A post card? Personal note? Email message? Snap chat? You decide.
But have a system in place for connecting with your most important connections at least every 90 days. That Top 50 list might change a bit every month but stick to your system. Work your plan and plan your work.
Pick up some of these great habits along the way. You might just grow your business.
— Read 7 Business Networking Reminders, on ThinkAdvisor.