Networking on a Personal Level

…Building Trust for Referrals

The best networking can be just ‘hanging out’!

So, you’re a member of a networking group and expected to give referrals to someone you don’t trust and have never done business with. Maybe you’re happy with the service your current provider gives and have no reason to switch to a provider in the networking group. No matter how many “one to one” meetings you have with them, you can’t break that barrier and do not feel you know them well enough to trust your customers with or to refer customers to. What do you do?

It’s time to think outside the box. Trust is built by communicating and forming relationships. But if you do not know someone through regular business, how do you form a relationship and communicate? Why not network on a personal level? If meeting at offices, restaurants, and coffee shops isn’t doing it, why not ask about common interests and meet over those? If you have no common interests, how about just hanging out?

There was an attorney once who didn’t have an open schedule and lived in a rather isolated area of town. But what he did do is periodically invite people over to ‘shoot’ rifles in his back yard. He had quite the gun collection and targets. Business associates came over and marveled in his collection of firearms and enjoyed an afternoon of shooting, all while building relationships and trust. In short they got to know each other personally over an afternoon of sport and competition.

Knowing each other personally can be a key to building referrals where no business relationship may exist. It’s important to see your fellow networkers as people. Getting together and sharing about family, hobbies, causes, or other interests is a great way to start. Use good judgement when asking questions – respect their privacy but get to know them! Being social after hours is yet another way to build that rapport. After hours gatherings can be with individuals or groups of people.

Connecting as a group can be a very rewarding and profitable activity. If you run a networking group, consider a group outing like a live sports event or a night at the sports bar over wings and beer. Consider a group volunteer day such as Habitat for Humanity, local school career days, or other such opportunities to come together as a group outside of the networking setting.

Don’t delay, get out today! Thinking outside the box can lead to doing some great business! Get to know your business contacts outside of the office and watch your leads grow