About five years ago I read a book called Love is the Killer Application. The book was written by Tim Sanders, a former Yahoo! executive. Essentially, the book is about a business networking philosophy that can be summarized as follows: when business people honestly and authentically help others achieve their goals they usually benefit reciprocally. A few years later I again heard the philosophy discussed at a BNI meeting. The BNI version of the philosophy is called “Givers Gain”, but the philosophy is essentially the same. Properly and sincerely applied in small business and business networking contexts can realize improvements and gains in any endeavour, especially ones own business. Ones business practice is enhanced because the interaction results in the acquisition of an enhanced group, or groups, of trusted associates who work together to share resources and bring each other business. When someone is known as “giver” those on the reweaving end usually want to give back. The term “Givers Gain”
Personally, I have found that using this philosophy has increased the number of trust-based relationships that I have with other business people. Building trust based relations with other business people usually results in their referring clients and customers to you and your product/service without a second thought. Helping others achieve their goals is a favour almost always rewarded in kind. It is the most effective way of building a trust based relationship with another business person, especially if combined with actions that are honest, dignified and sincere. That acquired trust means that they have little concern about referring others whom your trusted associate will feel confident you can help, regardless of the associate ability to monitor or control the situation.
I have come to realize that if you perform to expectation, or better yet exceed expectation, you will build an important network of associate that will market you and your business at every possible opportunity.
Rules of Business Networking
To go along with the “Gives Gain” networking philosophy, below are the ten rules of business networking. The rules were written by Melinda Potcher of Home Loans in Albuquerque.
1. Thou Shalt Not Sell To Me. If we’re trying to help one another get more business, you tell me your target market, I tell you my target market and when we are out in the world, we speak well of one another and refer one another. Do not try to sell me-I’m your referral resource. If I need your product or service, know that I will call you. Use our relationship to sell through me, to get to those 250-plus people I know.
2. Thou Shalt Understand The Law of Reciprocity. If I’m sending you business, please keep me top of mind. Giving me a new client is the best thank you I can receive, and I will continue working to find you referrals if I know you appreciate me.
3. Thou Shalt Not Abuse Our Relationship. Sending me a bogus referral just to use me, my expertise or my resources for free without asking permission first is the fastest way to lose my respect.
4. Thou Shalt Not Be Late . If we have a meeting set to get to know one another and strategize how we can refer each other business, do not reschedule our appointment more than twice. I blocked a chunk of time in my schedule FOR YOU, and I respect you enough to be on time.
5. Thou Shalt Be Specific. Specific Is Terrific! If you tell me your target market is “anybody” or “everybody,” that means nobody to me. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for me to find you business.
6. Thou Shalt Take Your Business Seriously. As your networking partner, I need to know your intentions.If your company is a hobby business, it will be difficult for me to assist you. If it’s part-time, you are limited in the time you spend working on your business and working to find me referrals. However, if you’re working your business part time with a goal of making it full time, I am there for you, 100 percent.
7. Thou Shalt Follow Up On Referrals. When I send you business, please follow up with that prospect in a timely fashion-say 24 hours. If you’re going out of town or will not be available for some time, a quick e-mail or phone call to the person to let them know when you will be available will preserve your credibility and protect my reputation in recommending you to someone I know and care about.
8. Thou Shalt Communicate. If I do something to upset you, send you a “bad” referral or cause you to have ill feelings toward me, please communicate with me as soon as possible. I may not be aware I have caused a problem for you; if you tell me, I can try to fix it. Referral networking is about relationships! Relationships and referrals are at the heart of my business.
9. Thou Shalt Protect My Reputation. Most people would rather die than risk their reputations. If I receive feedback from a referral I have sent you that is disparaging or derogatory, it is as though you cut me off at the knees. Please do what you say you will do and live up to the ethical standards of your profession.
10. Thou Shalt Prepare For Success. If you really want to grow your business, then prepare to receive it. I will move mountains for my networking partners to ensure they get referrals on a consistent basis. I am a Ninja Networker-you may not always see me working on your behalf.