Being Specific – is it a Complete Waste of Time?

by Charlie Lawson on November 12, 2012 · 2 comments

I was running a training workshop recently, and at the end I facilitated a business generation exercise where all the attendees (about 60 or so) were asked to share their top ‘target’ in terms of who they’d like a referral to.

The key to success in this exercise is that it only works if the targets shared are specific – so not only naming a target company, but also the person at the company they’d need to speak to, both in terms of their job title, and their name.

We’d just started the exercise when I was confronted by a lady who ran an events company.  I could tell from the look on her face that she thought the whole process was not likely to work – but, loving a challenge, I asked her who her dream referral request was.

Now, her facial expressions may have told me that she didn’t believe that the process would work, but that was nothing compared to her reaction when she spoke to me.  “It is absolutely inconceivable that anyone in this room will know the person I need to speak to” was her answer.

“Go on, just give it a go”, I replied.

“Seriously – it won’t work, just move on to the next person”, she replied, folding her arms, and by now, sounding a little cross.

“Just give it a try – you never know”, I ventured.

“Look – I’ve told you already,” she answered.  “All the people in this room run small businesses.  It is absolutely inconceivable that anyone will know the Marketing Manager of the Hilton Hotels group, so it’s not even worth wasting my time.”

Before I could respond, the gentleman just two seats away from her said to her: “I don’t know the Marketing Manager of the Hilton Hotels Group, but my next door neighbour is the Group Chairman – would that be of any use to you?”

Somewhat more sheepishly now came the response.  “Er, yes – I guess it would…”

It’s incredible – when out networking, we so often close our minds to the opportunities that are sitting (literally) right next to us.  Remember, it’s not WHAT you know that is important, nor is WHO you know important.  What will help you achieve success in networking is thinking about WHO YOUR CONTACTS KNOW, how well they know them, and whether you have enough of a relationship with your contact to access their contacts.

Have you ever seen examples of this when you’ve been out networking?

Charlie Lawson
Charlie Lawson – BNI National Director and Word of Mouth marketing expert, whose passion is to see BNI members succeed in their businesses.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Gerry Grant November 12, 2012 at 12:11

Brilliant!! Being specific is the only way to get the referrals that you really WANT. It might not be the exact person that you are looking for but it certainly can point you in the right direction.

It really isn’t about who is in the room, but who they know that counts.


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