Networking 101 at OCS

Last weekend I received a text from my brother in law Patrick.  I have an exchange like this daily if not 3-4 times a day.

Patrick: OK guy that knows everyone.  I need a guy.

Me: Go for it.  What do you need?

Patrick: Getting a new truck for the roofing company.

Me: Call Heath at Golling on Telegraph for the truck, I’ll tell him you’re coming in.  Then have Marcus from Allstate on Sashabaw look at the insurance on it.  I’ll text you his phone number.

Patrick: No…I already bought the truck.  I need to put our logo and graphics on the side of it.

Me: That’s it?

Patrick: Yeah

Me: Lance at Inkwell Screen Printing in Rochester, I’ll email both of you an introduction.

I love these exchanges.  Like I said, they happen daily and I love being a guy that my friends have the confidence in to refer people that they can trust.  In 2015 I was interviewed by NPR for a story they were doing on networking.  We even did the interview right here at OCS and we were able to talk about what a great place it is to network.  I love what the community here in Royal Oak has to offer and no one does a better job of assembling professionals in Royal Oak day in and day out than OCS.  Among 1000s of people in my Rolodex I’m the guy that’s got a guy.  It’s a distinction I take pride in and it makes life rewarding and my career successful.  Networking isn’t easy for everyone.  I can tell you that for me I’m lucky that  I’m general outgoing and curious.  I ask a lot of questions and tend to meet a lot of new people.  Now that I’ve been working with Mike and Brooke here at OCS I’m going to try and help with some blog posts on how you can increase your ability to network.

I stick to the old mentality that “Givers Gain” and if you want to get referrals you have to give referrals.  Being in sales I’d say that 90 percent of our business comes from sales and honestly, business has never been better.

So here are 3 things today I would recommend to do first to get you out there if you’re looking for a new job, a new client or a new transaction.

  • Shut up and listen. You’re not going to help anyone or gain any trust if you’re listening just so you can respond.  We’ve all met the person that starts talking to you before you finish your sentence.  It’s not that they have something THAT important to add, they just already figured out what their response was going to be so they tune you out and get ready to respond.  Don’t be that guy.  We as a society are communicating by talking less and less.  In email, text, tweet, chats and every other form of communication this is the chance to best listen, understand and establish a relationship.
  • Ask lots of questions. Ask lots of follow up questions.  Do the basics and no question is too stupid.  Do you like doing X?  How long have you been doing Y?  How did you get started in Z?  These are the kind of questions that can help you understand their expertise better.  I will not pass any referral if I’m concerned that the service and attention to a friend will not be A+.  These question can help you figure out if the person you just met is vetted and should be added to your list of preferred providers.  Likewise, if you do have confidence in them, ask them who you can help THEM meet.  What types of professions?  Where do most of your current referrals come from?  Is there anyone I can help you meet?  Being willing to help right off the bat goes a long way.
  • Follow up. We live in an age of social selling.  Find them on LinkedIn.  Follow them on Twitter.  Go leave them a 5 star review on Facebook and like their page if you’re that impressed.  Always follow up with an email and/or text thanking them for their time and assuring them it was a pleasure to meet with them.  Let them know you’re on the lookout for specific clients and referrals for them.  It reassures them that you were actually listening.  Don’t be afraid to end it with an ask.  Most of my emails end with “Let me know if I can help anyone you come across with a new website or some help with their social media.”

Next week we’ll talk about where to meet.  If you have any questions Email me or tweet me.

Ok.  My turn to shut up and listen.  What can I help YOU with today?  Who can I introduce you to?

Chris Drouin is the Director of Business Development for The Ignite Media Group in Rochester Hills, MI.  They specialize in web design, graphic design, print, photography, video and social media training and management.

 

Categories: Networking, Sales

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