People come with built-in biases. You may not be aware of your biases but they exist. And many people have biases about networking, especially with individuals outside their normal frame of reference. Our biases cause us to leave money on the table every day by blinding us to opportunities that are right in front of us. When you allow yourself to see through your biases and open your world to those outside your well-defined box, the possibilities are astounding.
Years ago, I was an active member of a large networking organization known as BNI. Here’s a great example that I learned from BNI that demonstrated networking bias in action. This is the story of one of the biggest referrals ever passed in the organization and it came from—brace yourself—a Mary Kay consultant!
How did it happen?
Well, the Mary Kay consultant was giving a facial at a woman’s home in West Los Angeles. As the consultant worked, the customer’s husband walked by several times with a sheet of paper, grumbling and cursing under his breath. Finally, his wife asked, “What’s wrong, honey?”
The husband said, “I gotta fire this graphic design outfit. They’re doing a horrible job. The problem is, I need someone to take over the project quickly.”
Hearing this, the Mary Kay consultant turned to the woman’s husband and said, “Gee, I know a great graphic designer. I think I have his card right here.” She opened her business card file. “I’m going to see him tomorrow morning. Would you like me to give him your card?”
“Absolutely,” replied the husband.
The Mary Kay consultant made the connection, and the graphic designer got the job. Here’s the kicker: the husband was a movie producer. The graphic design work was for his new movie. The referral turned into a six-figure contract, and the designer did such a great job that he got the producer’s next movie project as well.
The moral here is that you never know who “they” know and get rid of your biases about networking. All too frequently we see people with built-in, self-defeating prejudices. They just don’t want to do business with “this type” of business professional or “that kind” of salesperson or—heaven forbid—a cosmetics consultant. Financial advisors who think this way just don’t get it. The secret is to have truly diverse networks in which the people have only one thing in common: they’re really good at what they do. For the people who are truly successful at networking, it’s all that ever counts.
In networking, someone you don’t have a lot in common with could be a connector between you and a whole world of people you might not otherwise be able to meet. The more diverse your network, the more likely you are to find valuable linkages between people like you and people unlike you. The more of these linkages you can make, the stronger your network can be—and the broader your opportunities.
Stop Your Biases About Networking
If you wish to build a powerful business network, branch out. Remove your blinders and biases about networking. Stuff your biases out the door. Build a diverse network of professional contacts that includes people who don’t look like you, sound like you, speak like you, or share your background, education, or history. The only thing they should have in common with you and others in your network is that they should be really good at what they do. As a bonus, if they also happen to serve your niche market, then you’ve struck gold! Create a network like that, and you’ll have a network that can help you succeed at anything.
If you need help getting more out of your networking efforts or building profitable COI relationships, give us a call. At Productivity Uncorked, we work with financial advisors around the country who struggle with business development issues as well as issues with clutter and productivity. Check out our website at www.ProductivityUncorked.com to explore our services and the value we bring to our clients.