Throughout the year, I find myself sitting with business owners and sales folks, forming relationships, making introductions, giving and receiving qualified and unqualified referrals and sharing new ideas. All of these activities are typical of your run of the mill business networking groups that we find ourselves in around our local market areas. Having said that, let’s address one activity I mentioned above; the giving and receiving of referrals. Assuming you sit in on a networking group, have you ever really thought about why a fellow member would refer you or your business to a friend? Or why you would refer your colleague to someone in your network? I have narrowed it down to two things:
1) How often do you "give" refferals to others?
2) What level of trust do your colleagues have in you, and you in them?
Let's first start by addressing the word “give” in the context it’s used in business networking groups. Think about it - if each of us networked to “get” something, then more than likely, none of us would “get” anything. Therefore, it makes sense to approach your networking group and meetings with the idea of “giving” as many referrals as possible, increasing the likelihood that you will be “given” referrals in kind. When you show you care about others enough to help them grow their business, you will find that others consider the same holds true for you. Albert Einstein once said, “The value of a man resides in what he gives and not in what he is capable of receiving.”
So, now that we’ve covered giving and receiving referrals, let’s discuss the word “trust” and how it applies to the world of networking. As in our own personal relationships, trust in the workplace is the main building block for creating ongoing and long-lasting relationships. Trust is built over time and is almost always earned - not given. Trust is built simply through acceptance, integrity and reliability. It’s with this behavior that people will trust you, and therefore, refer you to others. Other qualities require that you be genuinely interested in others, listen properly, and follow up accordingly. In the end, building trust is ESSENTIAL for growing and maintaining a strong business network.
In closing, as you continue to build your relationships and your network, remind yourself that “what goes around comes around.” In order to get, you MUST give. Also, your reputation is everything. It’s always much easier for people to lose trust in you than it is to earn it. Happy networking!
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