We often write – at least regularly! We write about the importance of networking in generating recommendations – whether for new jobs as well as new customers, clients or business partners.
A good networker won’t just request referrals. A great networker will make it easy for a partner in the network to recommend good people regardless of whether it’s in person or at a later time by letting it be clear who would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you!
A 30-second commercial cannot do this!
In any social networking setting, you’ll have to make an effort to explain your ideal client in great detail.
This kind of description is only possible during a live, lengthy conversation where you are able to make your requirements known and you discover the requirements of the person that you’re speaking to.
Three questions that your network partner should be aware of the answers to:
1. What kind of client or company do you cater to?
This should be fairly simple for you to define. Are you working in small-sized businesses? (What’s what you consider to be “small?”) Start-ups? Companies looking to acquire buyers? Privately or publicly held? International or domestic?
What is their industry? What is the specific niche of the field? What you’re searching for will be based on your previous experience and your interests.
Make sure you are as specific as you are. The fact that your company is “in the biotech industry” isn’t very helpful. The fact that you’re in search of a biotech company with specialized knowledge or power for their regulatory compliance department can make things much clear for your network partner.
2. What role or job title in the company do you collaborate with?
Based upon the scale of your business and your specific skills, Do you need an opportunity to introduce yourself to the business’s owner? Do you want to be the CEO, President, General Manager or COO? CIO? Vice-president Sales? Vice-president Marketing?
In general, you don’t need a referral to take the person to HR unless you’re looking for a standard response letter, as this is the only thing you’ll receive.
When you are networking, ensure that the name or the management level is clear to the person you are referring to. If your networker has no connections at that level, then you can’t expect a referral worth the effort. However, it is possible to assist the person by providing the help of a friend. Make sure to find out!
(Naturally, in the event that you’ve already compiled an inventory of potential business opportunities, you might even know the names of the specific person you’re interested in connecting with. LinkedIn offers a wealth of resources to help you in this regard.)
3. What problem in the business can you address?
It’s your job to understand the challenges your business is experiencing. If you’re keeping tabs on stories, you could be aware of the specific challenges the companies you’re considering confronting. (Press releases or annual reports, and even periodic news articles are excellent sources to find out about issues.)
The senior executives and consultants are not hired to fill a vacant position but rather because they fulfil the perceived need or solve urgent issues.
One of the components of your network plan is to be prepared with all the information you need to answer these questions prior to when you go to any networking event because the answers will vary for every occasion. If you don’t prepare, it could cause you to miss an important source of information or, even worse; you’ll waste your time.