The Power of Networking
Learning about the "brave new world" of social media and online networking has certainly be fun for me and my team this year, and for the first time we have added a goal to our business plan for 2010 to continue to expand our online presence. With that being said, I still think that it is important to focus on good old fashioned face-to-face networking as well.
I was fortunate enough to be asked to join a BNI (Business Networking International) group earlier this year, and have really enjoyed meeting weekly with other business professionals from about 30 different industries to learn more about each others' businesses and to learn new strategies for referring business to these new business partners. I have been a part of other networking groups in the past, but this particular organization and our group in particular really grasps the power of word of mouth referrals. During my few short months in this group I've already closed 3 transactions and I am currently working on 3 more new transactions from recent referrals in this group.
One concept that BNI talks about all of the time is the philosophy of "Givers Gain". I love this mantra and it certainly holds true in my experience. If you work hard to build strong alliances with professionals in various industries that you can trust to take great care of your clients, and are able to send business their way, you will soon find that many of these professionals will become very interested in sending their clients your way whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Our team has become very deliberate about screening potential referral partners and then actively referring those partners to our clients and sphere of influence. I carry the cards for professionals in over 30 industries with me wherever I go and try to always be listening for opportunities to help meet my client's needs be referring them to one of my business partners. This applies to Realtors as well. I have worked with well over a hundred different Realtors during my career in the mortgage business, and most of these agents have told me that they've never received a lead from a mortgage lender or mortgage broker. We keep a list of all agents that refer us closed business in a year, and based on the way they do business and the volume of leads that they refer to us, we then add them to a referral out list to receive referrals from us for our clients needing help from a Realtor. This system, and our strong relationships with financial advisors, CPA's and other financial industry professionals allows us to refer about 10-15 clients to our Realtor partners in a given year. It is very fun and rewarding for us to be able to call one of our great Realtor partners to refer them a pre-approved client who is ready to purchase a home. This give and take also strengthens our relationships with our business partners and provides a valuable service to our clients, so everyone wins!
So I think for me the goal in 2010 will be to expand my knowledge and presence in the online world but I will continue to have a strong focus on face-to-face time with my business partners and clients as well. Keep in mind the concept of Givers Gain as you go about your business the next few days and see what happens!