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How Business Networking Opens Doors and Gets Referrals

Updated on May 23, 2011

Business networking done properly can become a catalyst that creates referrals, opens doors, and brings unlimited business potential. Many business people understand the value of referrals, and many attend networking meetings, and most get few or no referrals. Would you like to get more referrals from the Chamber of Commerce or networking group you are a part of?

Before I started networking I searched for a book that would give me the holy grail of business networking, and I found it in the book Endless Referrals by Bob Burg. Bob Burg throughly covers networking and ways to market your business based on those networking principles.

Two key rules in the book are the networking golden rule – "All things being equal, people will do business with, refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust"; and the 250 rule, everyone knows at least 250 people.

What kind of people would you like to give referrals to? Someone who gives you referrals? Someone who helps you do better at your business? Or as I like to put it, "Someone who makes you successful?". Right? So here is the key -- do that to them. The Bible gives this life principle very clearly in Luke 6:38 "Give, and it shall be given to you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that you measure out it shall be measured to you again". Notice the command is for the one, who wants to receive, to give first.

What the 250 rule means is everyone you meet at a networking event, business owner or job seeker knows at least 250 people. Business owners normally know over 500 people. So why sell to the 40 to 60 people in the room, when you can invest in 3 or 4 people at the meeting which will then advertise your business to 750 to 1000 people?

So exactly how do we network? First you need to see the other person and his/her business as more valuable than you and your business. I normally come to meetings with a name tag that has only my name on it, no company name or logo, and I don't give out business cards unless people ask for them. Why? Because, what my business is, does not matter until at some level they know, like, and trust me.

Ask them, “What is your business? What do you do?". Then ask the key question "What makes your business unique?", because if we have two businesses that do everything exactly the same, one of them is not necessary, so every good business has something unique about it.

I then take this information and write it on the back of his/her business card, I also bring some blank business cards, in case they have fancy cards you cannot write on or they have loaded up the front and back of the card with writing.

Lastly I ask them, "How would I know if someone was a good referral for you?". All of this information along with the date, name of the networking group, and place goes on their card.

Next, when you go home, write them a short thank you note and remind him/her what kind of people they told you to look for, and mail it. Do not send emails! A hand written note is something no one does today, and that is exactly why you need to do it. You need to care and show that you care. When did you last get a hand written thank you note? How much did that note mean to you?

Next, do the most important thing of all, look for either customers, or other businesses to refer them to; for example, you could link a Realtor with a mortgage broker, carpet cleaner, or handyman.

So you are now asking, when do I get referrals? The right answer is when the other person asks, and not until. Because until they know, like and trust you; asking for referrals won't do you any good. But trust Bob Burg, when people know, like and trust you they will be asking who they can refer to you.

I have used this method and taught it, and it has made me "The Guy" in the Chamber of Commerce and networking groups I attend, even if the person is not interested in the service I offer, I have people in my network who will bring people over to meet me or give accolades about my service or how important it is to know me.

I have also used my network to open doors; I cold called a person once who has an in-home adult care facility, and she was not excited about my service, but did have other needs, grant writer, builder, plumber, and banker to name a few. I was able to hook her up with those people from my network. I then asked if I could come by and visit, and she said yes. When I arrived, she wanted to hear all about my service, then she said, she would look for people who could use my service, and invited me to stop by or call any time. Helping people feels good, and opens doors, but you have to have contacts and a caring heart.

I have focused on what to do in this article, for a list of things to not do, see my other article 5 Business Networking Don't s.

by Larry Grenevitch -


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