I’ve been enjoying reading Andy Lopata‘s new book, Recommended: How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals, in which he guides the reader through creating a referral culture through networking. I’m also learning a great deal from his video tips – and thought I would share one with you.
In this video clip Andy describes how many people he meets are reluctant to talk business with their friends and family, and in particular, reluctant to ask for referrals from them.
Have a look and think about your reaction. I can tell you what mine was. My immediate reaction in thinking about ‘networking’ with family and friends is ‘oh no, I couldn’t do that!’. I know that there is no simple boundary between our relations and friends and our business contacts; yet even thinking about that statement makes me feel uncomfortable.
The reason why I feel uncomfortable isn’t social conditioning, its experience. We’ve seen it so many times. The young Estate Agent who is taken on for a huge salary and nice sports car, persuaded to make all his friends and family buy and sell through the business, and then dropped like a stone when his contacts ‘have been used up’.
This scenario isn’t about the dangers of networking with friends and family, however. It is about the dangers of networking incorrectly.
This is what Andy means about selling ‘through your network’ not ‘to your network’.
The Estate Agent will fall if he sells TO his network whether he is related to them or not; the relationships just make the failure more embarrassing, thats all.
If we are currently seeing networking as ‘selling to’ why is it any less embarrassing and wrong to sell ‘to’ our business contacts than it is to sell to our friends?
The answer to this concern is not to save our ‘networking’ for the less familiar, non-family non-friends. It is to learn how to network properly, in a way that everyone benefits and there are no losers.