Here's a story about everyday networking, and how effective it can be - for both the business and the customer/client.
When we relocated recently, we decided to sell our old car instead of transporting it cross country, and buy another one once we arrived at our destination.
Since we were new in town, we asked people at my husband's workplace for their recommendations for car dealers. We got 3 names. We visited them all, and settled on a car we liked.
As we were getting ready to buy the car, we ran into a little snag: we needed to have car insurance in the state of Ohio, before we could drive the car home.
We knew we could transfer our insurance from California to Ohio, so we hadn't worried about this detail too much.
However, as it turned out, we bought this car on a Saturday. And while the California insurance office was open, the Ohio branch was not! So we could not do the transfer that day. We had to wait until Monday.
With everything else we had to do, I didn't want to wait. I wanted this “task" to be completed and off my “to do" list!
So I asked our car salesman if he could recommend an insurance company.
He said he liked his own insurance agent and could call them to find out if they were open.
They were. And they got our business.
Well, 3 things occurred to me, as I thought about this experience:
- The insurance agent made a sale on a Saturday morning, without any effort on his part.
Well, actually, the effort was invested earlier - when he was serving and taking care of his client (our car salesman).
So when we asked for a recommendation, it was a “no-brainer" for our car salesman to give us his name.
- Our car dealership seems to make a lot of sales. As I drive around these days, it seems that every other car on the road is from that dealership.
How many people go to that dealership in the first place, because a trusted friend or colleague recommended it to them?
Related to this, it occured to me that we had asked several people for recommendations for car dealerships, but only 3 responded with names.
Why didn't the others? Is it because they don't have cars, or is it because they didn't have an out-of-the-ordinary experience with the dealership they went to?
- There are “natural" partnership opportunities among certain businesses.
For instance, when you buy a car in the U. S. , most states require you to have car insurance.
When you buy a house, you usually need to work with a real estate lawyer, a home inspector, and a financial institution. Later on, you may also need to find other service providers for your new house, such as plumber, electrician, etc.
As I did in the car anecdote, I remembered that when I bought my house, I kept asking my realtor for recommendations for all of these service providers.
How many small business owners take advantage of this phenomenon?
People ask for recommendations for a wide range of products and services everyday, as a normal part of daily life.
And their friends and colleagues recommend their favorite ones to them when asked. (This, of course, is called a “referral" by the business that sells that particular product or service!)
Is your business benefitting from this kind of networking that happens everyday and all the time?
If not, why do you suppose this is?
If yes, are you doing anything in particular to encourage people to recommend you or your business? Be sure to do more of it.
(c) Copyright 2006, Srirupa Dasgupta
Sri Dasgupta helps business professionals get better results from their business networking efforts through focused and relevant conversations. She is the author of the Effortless Networking: Everyday Wisdom to Transform your Business and Life , and writes regular articles offering business networking tips and related resources.