By Mia and Andy Torr
Two and a half years ago, prospecting felt like a struggle. We had burnt out our warm market, and we struggled to gain trust and recognition with cold market prospects. This affected our business, our income, and our family life.
Today, we have a business that is thriving. We regularly receive referral business, inbound clients, and invitations to connect with influencers.
What’s the most important thing that changed? We focused on growing a single asset in our business.
I don’t mean our financial portfolio or properties. The asset was our personal network. When we focused on nurturing it properly, we began to see consistent warm referrals and inbound clients, which became so reliable it eliminated our need to make any more cold calls.
How can this work for you?
There’s no secret sauce. You don’t need to publish a book or appear on TV. You don’t need to be an expert or a guru. Building your network does take time, but it’s much simpler than you think.
In fact, a powerful personal network has many of the hallmarks of a strong investment portfolio: it grows, it’s resilient, and it pays dividends.
Growing Your Network
You know the value of reinvesting a dividend every month. The same principle applies to investing your time and energy in building relationships. As long as you commit to consistently meeting new people and adding value to those you already know, your network will begin to serve you.
Dr. Ivan Misner, the godfather of modern networking, suggests growing your network both wide and deep to increase its value.
To grow your network wide, you’ll want to meet a diversity of people. Look up a range of different local groups and events, each with different audiences, and attend them consistently.
To grow your network deep, focus on building relationships before the sale. Get curious about new people you meet. Ask questions that allow you to get to know them. Follow up in a way that adds value to them beyond selling your products or services. Connect people to each other. And make a habit of regularly checking in with people in your network, just to inquire how they’re doing. In our busy, distracted world, it’s rare to meet someone who genuinely cares enough to check in. Be that person to your network.
An advisor I know recently had four elderly clients pass away unexpectedly. He needed to quickly bring in new clients to replace them so that his income would not be interrupted. What would you do if that happened to you?
Just as you might advise a client to build a resilient portfolio to weather changes in the market, your network should also be resilient. It should be an asset in your business that cushions you against unexpected events, such as the death of an important client.
My advisor friend simply turned to his network and asked for referrals, and was quickly able to fill his vacancies with qualified new clients.
If you want to build a diverse, resilient network, remember that not everyone you meet is a potential client. They might be a source of referrals, or a collaborator, or someone who can introduce you to a whole audience of your ideal clients. As you get to know new contacts, sort them into the Five Essential Networking Connections, which you can read about in the April 5 eFORUM.
Some investments pay dividends that “give back” to the investor. Similarly, a network that is diverse and growing will pay you a dividend in the form of consistent leads and referrals, so that you need to do little or no cold calling.
One easy way to earn dividends from your network is to ask for referrals at the right time. You might think the best time to ask for a referral is after completing a sale. But a better time to ask is actually before the sale, after you have given some value upfront.
For example, if you lead with a free cash-flow consultation, you might ask for a referral after you’ve presented them with their budget. They’re more likely to give you a referral because the process was helpful, free, and it didn’t require a lot of commitment.
Building a personal network requires an investment of time and energy. If you do it properly, your network will be the foundation for your business. It will bring you new clients, establish your influence, and bring unexpected opportunities your way.
Build it like an asset, and it will pay you dividends.
Andy and Mia Torr are the co-founders of Authentic Networker, an international business network with more than 11,000 members in four countries. Download our Authentic Pitch Formula at authenticnetworker.com/forum.