Tis the Season to be ‘giving’. . .I mean ‘selling’ – actually it’s the same thing

Guest Blog Post by Bob Littell, 1/14/12

NetweavingIt’s been proven that the number one indicator of success in sales is one’s ability to be referred by others. And yet what most persons in sales forget is that the best way to BE referred. . is by referring others.

That’s what the IRREFUTABLE “NetWeaver’s Law of Referral Reciprocity” (NWrsLoRR) is all about – the more you refer others, the more you will be referred.

But as you will see if you read on, there are three conditions which must be met in order for the law to be operable. Violate any one of these and the law of reciprocity – ‘what goes around, does come back around’ – fails to work.

First, NetWeaving is a ‘pay it forward’ form of networking which turns the whole concept of networking on its head. When those in sales, or just business development of almost any type, are networking, they’re typically asking three questions: 1) Is this person a prospect for me or my product or service? 2) Does this person have something I need or could they help me in some way? 3) Could this person introduce me to someone whom I would like to know?

Nothing wrong with any of these, but in the long run, and often in the short run, the results from one’s “NetWeaving” activities will greatly out-perform their more self-serving networking efforts.

Both of the two key skill sets of NetWeaving involve learning how to be a better ‘listener’ – to listen for Needs, Problems, and Opportunities of others – for which you could be the solution, or you knowing someone in your Trusted Resource Network who could be. . .and you are the ‘connector’.

Few sales people recognize that a ‘referral’ in the eyes of the person making the referral is a ‘risk’, that is assuming they value their own reputation as well as the relationship with the person to whom they are referring the sales person.

My 3rd book on “NetWeaving” – “Raising Your R&R Factor – How Referable & Recommendable Are You?” – was specifically written because enough people came up to me after a talk I’d made, or after having read one or both of the first two books I’d written on the NetWeaving topic, sheepishly confiding that they LOVED the NetWeaving concept, but that they were not seeing much if anything coming back to them in the form of ‘returned favors’ or ‘reciprocal referrals’ after they had made several for the other person or persons.

After questioning literally dozens of persons who had had similar experiences, I identified the three conditions plus a 4th bigee, which MUST be met in order the NWLoRR to work successfully.

First, NetWeaving is all about being a ‘connector’ or a ‘resource provider’ with NO strings attached. If you tie any conditions or expectation of something being done for you in exchange for your good deeds, it makes the law inoperable.

Second, recognize that the world is made up of ‘givers’ and ‘takers’. I used to say that these ‘takers’ are missing the ‘reciprocity gene’ and then recently saw a Wall St. Journal article which said a ‘hormone’ had been identified in children who were more likely to share their toys so now I have some scientific evidence to back up my statement. Interestingly, when you stop making referrals for ‘takers’, sometimes they even get upset: “Whatever happened to all those referrals you used to give me?” Go figure!

Third, and this is the most interesting. When someone makes an introduction to someone who turns out to be great connection for us – especially if it’s at a very high level one – we tend to take ownership of the new relationship, and over time we often forget the person who made the original introduction. I maintain that it is the responsibility of the NetWeaver to follow back up several weeks later to ask what was the outcome of the referral you had made and sometimes, the reaction is a sincere apology for not having told you the amazing outcome, usually followed by a “Wow, I need to find a way to return the favor”.

But there were enough people who, after questioning how they were doing their “NetWeaving”; to whom, and whether they were following up so that they would actually increase the chances that they would get credit and that their referral would more likely result in a returned referral or introduction, I discovered were doing all three of these correctly, it struck me. It’s time to be very honest and tell them they must look in the mirror. Maybe the problem is them.

Coming back to my original point – a referral represents a RISK in the eyes of the person making it. If they do not see enough that convinces them that you are: qualified, competent, or interesting, they will not be willing to take the risk. And if the referral introduction you’re hoping for is with a high profile person, you must also be: outstanding, unique, exceptional, or even REMARKABLE.

In today’s world, it’s not enough to just be ok, many average persons in sales, have to find ways to become more ‘remarkable’. And the best news is that there are many different ways that can be accomplished. It’s all about having the desire to almost totally re-invent yourself, and then be willing to apply your new talents on a daily basis.

The book “Raising Your R&R Factor – How Referable & Recommendable Are You?” is available at www.unibook.com

Bob Littell, based in Atlanta and creator of the “NetWeaving” concept has written three books on the subject which is best characterized as a Golden Rule and Pay It Forward form of networking.


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