‘Good timing.’ I uttered as mince pies arrived along with our guest for the morning, Stephen.
Stephen is a likeable fellow, he’d been recently made redundant from a local research firm when he called to attend our meeting. We were about to hear his plan for the business going forward:
‘I know what I’m going to do Charlie. Laundry and dry-cleaning services. What do you think? I’m just part-time now but I bet the local business around here would find my services useful?
Sure thing Stephen. You’ve obviously done the homework, identified the client profile, the territory, pricing etc? How can I refer you?
‘I’ve already landed one or two clients Charlie, friends of friends and I know there will be more business out there once the word gets around. That’s why I’m visiting your Forum today.
Stephen had the enthusiasm and the attitude that goes with it, he had plans in place to grow … all sounded pretty good for the future. So, how can I refer you?
‘If I can get enough business to ‘tide me over,’ to help me get started … besides Charlie, if all goes ‘pear-shaped’ I can always fall back on my old trade. I mean, I can give ‘it’ six months and if it doesn’t work out then …’
I paused the mince pie, mid-chomp.
Stephen had just undermined all the promise of a good start to networking. With one phrase the initial confidence in being able to meaningfully refer him to family and the personal connections within a trusted network had evaporated.
Those we refer to our network are the people committed to the long-term growth of their business. Most of our Forum has grown to know each other well over the months/years as they put the roots down for the referral.
Stephen was surely on his way to success although enthusiasm and attitude alone are not the only ingredients for better business, so I was pleased when he agreed to sit down over further seasonal pie for the one to one.
Spending time with your network and learning what it takes to go the distance, as a specialist in your craft/service will ultimately pay dividends, once we gain the trust to refer you.