I teach a series of Networking Classes to beginning Networkers and Business Owners for the Business Ownership Initiative here in Indiana. I love helping business owners understand the Networking Process so that they can begin to create positive word of mouth for their businesses. As we were summing up the class on night I ask each student, what is the most important thing that you have learned in this program? Shane Helvie, Eye Design Graphics & Advertising Company summed it up beautifully. He said, “What I learned is to build a great network you have to learn to ask twice.” “Ask, how can I help them, then ask for what I need.” Right on Target!
Asking others how you can help them and finding ways to do it, is how you will build credibility with potential referral sources. many times when you ask someone the famous question, “How can I help you?” the often have no answer at all, and if they do have an answer then it is the usual “send me leads” statement. They have not really given much thought to what others can do for them. In this case, you may want to make some suggestion on how you might be able to help them. The Referral Institute teaches 18 Tactics and 15 Ways others can help you, here are a couple of easy ones that you can always put to use.
1. Invite them to an event with you
2. Ask them if they would like to put an article in your newsletter or blog
3. Send out their information in your next client mailing
4. Introdue them to someone who could be a possible source for them
5. Quote them in one of your articles as an expert
There are a great many things that you can do beyond giving a referral or a lead. Be creative, look outside the obs. Once you have helped someone else, then you will be ready to ask the second question.