Hey you, Mr Referable!

Referable? No such word.

More ‘business-speak/jargon’ from Charlie I hear you say. Although, if you’re in business then being referable is absolutely essential. Let’s look at what makes you so while understanding why the fundamentals are so vital for success …

Beginning with treating people as you may expect to be treated …

not to mention:

Are you visible?

What? It’s true, there are those out there that expect the business, that new best client to simply come ‘a knock-in’ on the door, out of the blue … just because you’re you … Nope, we need to work on the bizabilty (more jargon!) After all, there is any number of ways to be seen, some simply DIY in the world of ‘social.’

Do you know your p’s from your q’s? Yes, remember them? Those mirror images, the p and the q. We get what we give right? So let’s understand that there is mileage in good old fashioned manners, respect and etiquette. Let’s just call it p and q.

Thinking of others. Of course, it’s second nature to you, right? If we’re looking for referrals, think of those with like-minded ambitions, offer help and support and you will soon find that it’s reciprocal. Think business underdog. That was you once, right?

Doing as you say you shall? Following up. Well, that’s a no-brainer … innit? We do though, still hear of those given the opportunity who simply don’t follow-up. Isn’t it true that more business is lost through procrastination than by making the wrong decision? We know this, but still, the lack of follow-up by those who say they shall remain one of the largest obstacles to ambition.

Are you communicating? Some don’t. It’s true, they don’t call you because they assume that you are a mind reader … We’re supposed to know that there is a delay or that they’ve cancelled the meeting or the one to one. Lack of communication does not help the bizability, the reputation.

So, how is your reliability? Ask yourself this. Can we count on you?

This is the nugget, friends, your reliability is what makes you referable. If you are not readily visible and you don’t have the courtesy of thinking of others when the business opportunity arises … if you don’t follow up on the enquiries by communicating, then you are simply not reliable.

Unreliable = unreferable.

It’s on the nose!

I’ve had a great morning, just cleaned the wheely ‘garbo,’ the bin. Treated her to a …

disinfectant and hose, she’s a little on the nose.’

Working at home is like that, isn’t it? I mean, it’s the flexibility …. we get things done when we want, we schedule stuff in like a walk with the dog, a leisurely breakfast perhaps or a visit to the beach before the day even starts.

Routines are good although being accountable, working alone and the routine for self-preservation, planning to make a crust can take some doing. A little balance is needed so I tend to work well in advance and ensure my diary is up to date. How about you?

Mulling over forward plans the night before is good for me. I do have a tendency to revise my ‘stuff,’ including the plan for the following day and it’s just as I’m falling asleep, evening peace and clarity brings some surprisingly good results.

Holes in the net?

The regular meeting I was due to attend this morning had been planned months in advance. A dozen or more like-minded souls from the Weekly Business Network are looking to put down roots for new referral forum. It has shown great promise.

Today though I awoke early to find that a half of the regulars had other ‘things’ planned. One was a family welfare call (fair play) always family first! Another couldn’t face the walk(!) someone else had taken a last minute order she needed to fulfil while another suggested it was going to be impossible to stop the car between regular appointments.

Couldn’t stop the car? For our appointment?

So with a net that had so many holes it was a no-brainer that any messages I’d planned during introduction were going to be lost this time ’round, and so I made decided to contact our featured speaker, advising him of our postponement to his presentation, did the same with the caterer, the venue and followed-up with our intended guests …

It’s great to get up early’ I thought to myself.

Networking. The regular contact with like-minded business owners is a great way to show your colours, your intention … a great opportunity to enhance the reputation, don’t you think?

It’s our choice. We can come up smelling roses or if you’re not careful the scent may be a little more repugnant. Think wheely bin … you may need a spring clean.

Reputable, reliable, referable

Is he reliable Charlie? Ben asks.

Do you know him well enough to refer him??

Fair questions. I thought for a single moment and realised that this time, I just wasn’t sure of my answer…

All in business have had times of dilemma, finding the reliable trading partners, co-workers and suppliers are part of that conundrum. Yes, there is an abundance of reputable offerings … but are they reliable?

I consider myself lucky that I have made some fantastic, trusted long-time connections through networking. We seem to ‘sing from the same hymn sheet.’

Similar to what was being asked of me now, think yourself, what characteristics would a potential business partner or supplier need to possess? There’s a good chance you’ll come up with a list of attributes (nearly) similar to the following …

Is there evidence of:

Like-mindedness

Product knowledge

Empathy

Not forgetting, a reputable name?

Connections

Reliability

What makes them so referable, to you?

Personal recommendation. Reputations are built on them.

You may be given an introduction to a wholly reputable business, someone who fits the bill, an organisation that tick’s all the boxes, even drinks your brand of coffee, but if that connection is more a ‘maybe’ instead of a clear yes/no kind of outfit then chances are, you’re going to hesitate in referring them.

There are many reasons we buy into our professional network and each of us has our own prerequisite when choosing to work with someone.

Personally? It’s reliable. If we’re unable to count on our supporters to be with you when it matters, then they’re certainly not referable.

So in answer to Ben? Sit down, take a minute, share cake and get to know what works for you both.

All I’m looking for …

All I’m looking for is the same as everyone else Charlie. More business, I’m looking for more interest in what I have to offer.

So what are you doing about that Ben?

OK, I’m online, I’m so social it’s become anti-social! I’m taking pics with my right hand and posting with my left. Likes, retweets, mentions, the lot! I even go networking, just like you, on occasion, when I get the time …

Ever think ‘balance’ Ben?

Anyone in business is fishing to some extent. The look-out for the opportunity that may just influence our business prospects should, as you demonstrate, be a constant part of our psyche. But hold on for a minute, don’t you think you may be overcooking the (anti) social stuff, just a little? Perhaps think about changing your fishing lure, think balance, Ben.

Quality over quantity?

Exactly, let’s cut down on the ambidextrous stuff(!) and concentrate on the quality of the message. After all, if you can help people with differentiation and what makes you different while spending some time on specifics, you may just begin to attract like-minded souls who may be able to help refer your offer.

Make your offer scarce Ben. Be that difference. Encourage your next best customer to come to you.

How do I define my difference?

Just as I said Ben, try and cut down on the blanket media messages. Be selective, focus on the ideal introduction you are looking for. Spend time with face to face networks, encourage dialogue, build the familiarity and the relationships. Ask questions, find your fit. Bring your character to the fore, encourage the trust to create the future opportunity.

We cannot be all to all people Ben.

Our fair weather friend(s)

 

“Hey, c’mon we’ll be late for kick-off!”

It’s Saturday morning and I’d called by to collect one or two lads for the local rugby meet, the regular transport being unable to support us this time around …

As the boys clamoured into the back of the wagon, there was the usual hubbub, high spirits and lots of chatter with plenty of wise-cracks. It was just what you’d expect from a bunch of ten year old’s out with mates, on the way to ‘rugger.’

The exception amongst the car load being Joe, our ‘perennial sub.’

“So what happened to transport this morning Joe?” I asked.

‘Oh dad said he had a few things to do around the house, he said he’d be back to see us when we start winning again …’

“Whaa … ??”

Joe explained … ‘Dad said he liked to watch the team although didn’t like the coach so once we start winning he might come along.’

The response from our clearly deflated chum was profound enough to hang in the air for a minute, a full minute before the usual in-car banter recommenced.

Nice encouragement Dad! I thought to myself.

Sure the boy’s team were on an unlucky run just now and morale may be low but hey, how to inspire belief, eh?’

As it happens our opponents didn’t play so well that morning, whilst we, the home team managed to excel and win the game by a good stretch, even Joe being amongst the scorers. Much reason to cheer!

Sure enough, our coach had come good and this particular win was a prelude to a welcome run of good fortune which brought the ‘part-time support’ back to the fold, even Joe’s fair-weather supporter managed to be with us toward the end of the season …

With friends like that, I hear you say?

Attitudes. We all know the importance of a positive mental outlook if we are to be competitive on the sports field and it’s certainly the same in business. We learn from our peers, we listen for inspiration … but what lessons are we passing on when all we have is apathy?

Fair weather friends, can you afford to have them in your network?

Dream on

So Doug said that I was only looking out for myself, lining my own pockets and that I really only make ‘it’ all up as I go along …

There are times when hearing a declaration such as this that I deny all knowledge, refute the evidence and argue until I was almost ‘blue in the face.’

I’d just finished a conversation suggesting that Doug’s working practice was not conducive to better business. I tactfully (so I thought) pointed out that he couldn’t keep breaking appointments and disappointing colleagues, therefore it was in his own best interest and that of the Forum, that he should consider standing aside so that another might take his place as the ‘specialist in the room.’

It hadn’t gone down particularly well …

‘But they’re my friends, my customers.’ Came the reply.

Really, so is this how you treat your valued clients Doug?

Doug was right about a couple of things though. I was making up the business model as I went along. After all, I had twenty-five years experience in such matters and by now I had a good idea of what worked and perhaps what did not. It was also true when Doug suggested I was out to make a living for myself.

After all, as a business Forum, most are attending for the connection, I am no different to anyone else who habitually met with others at a given time and place to discuss lead and referral. The opportunity is there for anyone wishing to inform and inspire others to collaborate.

I’m attending regularly, offering myself the same valuable ‘air-time’ as anyone else who regularly attended the network Forum. We’re not having to think about ‘fees,’ or any direct competition in the room, this particular field of business is dead level, completely transparent.

An easy environment to tell us what you want so that we may see how we can help you.

If you are not attending we do not see you, if we don’t see or hear you, we cannot develop the relationship or consider the trust, let alone the referral.

Think reputation Doug.

Embrace the Process

The trouble with the process?

Here’s the deal … a friend of mine has just found a certain amount of recognition with a rock band he is working with. See Nervus.

I’ve known him a while, since he was a youngster and when catching up recently I was pleasantly surprised to see the confident young fella he’d become. As a kid he wasn’t particularly keen on the company of people, he actually went out of his way to be less than social, preferring the association of just close friends. His bandmates.

Over recent years though, association and experience have contributed to this development. Now here before us is a fellow who has learned much from his fraternity/peers. Being in the company of those close friends and colleagues, being part of ‘a band’ of people with the same goals and following a given process have contributed to his success.

Not that success has been plain sailing … after all, it rarely is for those who become successful. There’s time spent failing, falling out, picking up again. Time developing the trust and intent among colleagues.

Similar can be said for the process of networking for the referral.

Most understand that networking is the process of engagement, developing relationships, trust and partnerships.

For some though, the net just doesn’t work for them.

Many of us in business find that a certain hiatus comes along in most strategic processes until any significant results are seen at all. Success is dependent on such things as product, service, clarity. Persistence. Trust. It depends on the message, the transparency and the “bizability” – the art of being on the spot, familiar to your audience and available for business.

What does it take to be successful at networking?

Understanding the process. The trouble with the process … is that not everyone embraces the process. Ask Nervus.