Know Your Network
For success in generating referrals, it's crucial to know your sources – the members of your network. As such, there are five things that are critical that members of your network should know about each other.
These five things are not mysterious secrets; they’re actually facts we are exposed to every day, but often pay little attention to because we are not aware of the benefits we can accrue by sharing them. In our book, Business By Referral, Robert Davis and I call this sharing - the GAINS Exchange:
If you know the GAINS categories and use them effectively, you can strengthen your relationships, create strong organizations, and live a more rewarding, productive, and enjoyable life. The exchange is a two-way street. Not only should you know these things about others, you should share the same type of information about yourself with them.
Goals are the financial, business, educational, and personal objectives you want or need to meet for yourself and for people who are important to you. They could be problems you want to resolve or decisions you need to make, either immediately or down the road.
Whatever they are, you need to define your own goals clearly and specifically and you need to have a clear picture of the other person's goals. Indeed, the best way to develop a relationship is by helping someone achieve something that's important to him or her. If you do, they'll remember you when you need help achieving your goals. You'll become valuable sources for each other, and your relationship will endure.
Some of your best insight into others comes from knowing what goals they have achieved, what projects they've completed, what they have accomplished both for themselves and for others. Accomplishments, whether as student, employee, organization member, parent, friend, sports fan, or neighbor, tell you more about a person than any number of intentions or attitudes.
People like to talk about the things they're proud of. Engage your network members in casual conversation; encourage them to talk about their accomplishments. Sharing your accomplishments may lead to fortuitous surprises, such as a mutual interest, or connection that can be beneficial for both of you.
Your interests - the things you enjoy doing, talking about, listening to, or collecting - can help you connect with others. People are more willing to spend time with those who share their interests or know something about them.
Knowing other people’s interests makes it easier to help them in some way. Let them know your interests as well; if you and your contact share many of the same interests, it will strengthen your relationship. Don’t forget that your passions are your most important interests. A passion is something you love to do, something you could do all day long without encouragement or prodding from others.
A network starts with any group (formal or informal), organization, institution, company, or individual you associate with for either business or personal reasons. Most business people have a broad network of contacts. The question is – how well cultivated are those contacts?
There’s an old saying that goes, “it’s not what you know but, who you know”. Well, I believe that it’s not “what you know” OR, “who you know” - it’s, “how well you know them” that makes a difference. Each of us has sources in abundance that we don’t effectively cultivate. Each member of your network is part of several other networks; each of your prospective sources is connected, directly and indirectly, with hundreds, even thousands of people you don’t know. If you can tap the resources represented by your network of contacts, you can significantly increase your return on investment in networking.
The more you know about the talents, abilities, and assets of the people in your network, the better equipped you are to find competent, affordable services when you or someone you know needs help. Think about what you do well and identify the special skills you have; exchanging this information will help business relationships grow as well.
Recording the GAINS You Discover
There are several ways to gather information about the GAINS of your prospective network members or anyone else you may deal with. To do so, you should: listen, observe, ask questions, review written material, ask others, and of course… share your GAINS.
As you discover the GAINS of the people you are interested in, keep a record; otherwise, you’re likely to forget important information. Use the GAINS Profile (or whatever database you utilize) to record the facts you learn about your most important contacts. Spend more time with the people you already know, particularly with those you believe you want to know better. Concentrate on learning these five essentials – their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills. Find overlapping areas of knowledge and interest. Make sure you give back the same kind of information. The more they know about you, the faster your name will come to mind when an opportunity arises in which your products, services, knowledge, skills or experience might play a part.
About the Co-Author: Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world's largest business networking organization, which has more than 4,900 chapters in 37 countries. Dr. Misner is also the author of several books, including the most recent addition to the bestselling Masters Series—Masters of Sales (www.mastersbooks.com), and the New York Times bestseller TRUTH OR DELUSION? (www.truthordelusion.com); and he is the Senior Partner for the Referral Institute (www.referralinstitute.com), a referral training company with operations around the world.
About Our Show Advisor: Bertrand McHenry spent 22 years developing his skills in outside sales. Starting out in the cell phone business, then to Pitney Bowes, Dictaphone Division, and finally in Medical Diagnostic Equipment Sales. His expertise became finding, training, and developing dynamic and record setting sales teams. A number of years ago he was introduced to the concept of “Referral Marketing” as a strategy for growing his business. It worked and he was hooked! At a conference Bertrand was presented with the Referral Institute opportunity and “I was intrigued so I began researching the company and its curriculum. It is actually the only company teaching Referral Marketing as a strategy to business owners and entrepreneurs around the world…so it didn’t take me long.” These days Bertrand is doing what he loves and what he does best…teach and train! “There is a lot of misunderstanding around the words “networking” and “referral marketing”. People make a lot of assumptions about those two words, and most of those assumptions are wrong! I can tell you without a doubt that Referral Marketing is the most powerful form of marketing there is. If we structure a referral marketing strategy and follow through week after week and just use the V.C.P relationship model…we can actually predict our income 6, 9, even 12 months out!” Most recently he has been quoted on yahoofinance.com, maimiherald.com, morningstar.com and USA Today featured him in an article on today’s economy calling him a “Trendsetter in the New Economy!” He is also a contributing author on Brian Tracy’s newest book titled “The Only Business Book You’ll Ever Need to Buy” due out in February 2012 Bertrand also hosted a radio show “Business Builders Radio” on CBS radio, Talk 650 AM. The radio show was dedicated to teaching the concepts of referral marketing and helping as many business owners as possible. Bertrand is fond of saying: “I love to teach business owners to Work Less, Play More, Make More Money, and Create Referrals for Life!”