The conversation was going nicely until I mentioned the Vicar.
My colleague Helen has a well established stained glass business when the conversation naturally turned to business referral.
‘Would you like an introduction to the Vicar, Helen?’
‘No.’ Came her curt reply, the ecclesiastic world is not my market, I prefer to provide my services to those looking for decorative work or commissions for the home or office.
‘Don’t you think that our local Vicar may just be a source of great referral for you?’ I replied.
‘No Charlie, I’m not looking to work with the Church. More commercial work is what I’m looking for.’
‘How about our mutual friend who supplies pottery crafts?’
‘Why would he be able to help Charlie?’
Now, it comes to mind that we all have our network of contacts. Some have an abundance of trusted connections built up over the years. Others prefer a few friends they stay close to within that circle.
Helen had only recently joined our referral Forum and so I pressed my case …
Think ‘bigger picture’ Helen. Our ideal referral may not be evident in the room. We should spend the time to forge the partnerships with those who may be willing to lead us to those who may profoundly help our business.
Strategic partnerships … forged over time and through familiarity and trust are so important. Think of the congregation our Vicar may have? The stories from those she meets on a regular basis must surely be vast … I wonder how many times our Vicar has come across someone who, when admiring the stained glass windows within the Church asks …
‘I’d love to have windows similar to this in the home … do you happen to know anyone?’
The same can be said for our ‘Potter’ and all the close business connections Helen. The key to better business through networking is to take the time to listen, to understand how we are able to help each other through the greater network.