Helping others is one of the most valuable things you can do in business, for your business, and one of the ways of doing this is spotting opportunities for the other enterprises you network with.
In our latest MEG roundtable discussion, we talked about what to listen and look out for when it comes to referrals.
1. Education is Essential
It’s often a mistake business owners make to assume that by simply stating what their business is, this is enough to attract prospects.
Similarly, networking colleagues will only be able to find prospects and leads for them if they know what to look for, beyond surface descriptions.
In this sense, networking is a similar process to content marketing, in that educating others about your business is a critical step in attracting interest, and prospects.
What does this education mean practically?
Opportunities don’t always arise from the most obvious sources. Sometimes the solution arises from lateral thinking rather than direct strategies. What is the depth of knowledge that will enable you to add value to others? What is the missing piece of the puzzle your potential customers might need?
This missing piece might not even be central to your core offering, but it could be the crucial key to opening new markets to you.
It’s vital that your networking colleagues understand as much about you so that they can be aware of potential opportunities – including ones you might not be aware of.
Which brings us to…
2. Fresh Perspectives
Just as how your customers perceive you is hugely important, so the same applies to anyone looking to find referrals and opportunities for you.
One of the most valuable things networking can do is allow others to act on your behalf based on their perspective of your business, and who it appeals to.
The more you build trust with other networkers, the more they can work effectively on your behalf, offering fresh perspectives on your business offering and broadening its appeal.
3. Eavesdropping for Opportunities
Don’t think of eavesdropping as nosiness or being somehow underhand. It’s about keeping alert for opportunities.
We should do this anyway for our own enterprises, but a good networker will also do it on behalf of others.
In the end, you can be helping business colleagues with leads and prospects, but also potential customers who will benefit from your colleagues’ services or products.
4. It Comes Back to You
Acting selflessly for others is beneficial to your own business, because helping others in a proactive way, which demonstrates an understanding of their business, should encourage them to help you.
Business is competitive, and demanding, but it can also be enormously supportive.