So, I picked up the telephone and the conversation was something like this:
Hi Charlie, do you have time for a chat? I’d like to discuss something that is capable of profoundly enhancing your business.
Sure Ian, when is good for you? I can do Mon-Thurs morning or Thurs-Friday any time after 2 pm?
I met up with Ian Smith soon thereafter. It was almost twenty years ago and I remember the meeting as if it were yesterday.
“Charlie, come along and meet my friends, there’s business waiting for you.”
I must admit, I was skeptical.
Until then, my ‘method’ of generating new business was the time-honoured seek-out and call routine. I’d never thought (I had hoped) there might be a simpler, more reliable method to pick up leads. Something apart from targeted advertising.
So, ‘business waiting for me?’ Naturally, I’m interested in what Ian described as a simple method of referral.
Ian told me a little more, not too much. ‘Introductions through word of mouth.’
He was going to leave it to me … “OK Ian, sounds good. I’m interested, see you there!”
So it was that I ‘survived’ my first structured networking event. It was to be the first of many over the years. The fact that I met people who were keen to see me succeed and willing to look out for my business was irresistible.
It sure beats ‘cold-calling …’ I remember saying at the time.
So what has networking brought me?
I’d need far more than this short note to describe in detail the benefits/skills I’ve been gifted by simply conversing and listening, sharing and accepting challenges, offering support and advice …
* Over the years I’ve learned that no one is going to recommend you, unless you relate, engage your market.
* I’ve come to understand that if I proved to be a reliable contact, I’d soon become referable.
* Over time I’ve become a confident emissary of my craft. I’m empowering contacts to pass on my story.
* By giving people my time and conversation I was soon a familiar part of a team. I developed relationships through affinity. Trust.
Networking has provided me skills required to ‘go the distance,’ and in turn, my business has thrived. New business has come to me from a variety of sources and I’ve met some fabulous people. All instrumental in changing the fortunes of my business.
I’ve also been lucky enough to learn enough ‘along the way’ to enable me to support friends in business.
So, ‘the best introduction I’ve been fortunate enough to experience?’ I hear you ask?
That’s easy, and you know this already. It was that initial telephone call from Ian Smith, some 20 years ago.
When the conversation turns to collaboration, people buy from people.