Farming for Referrals

Entrepreneurs are usually prepared to put in hard word upfront in order to realize a long term gain. They tend to be visionary people, who see the potential value in a business idea way before it starts bearing fruit.

Of course, being prepared to fail is part of the picture. You try something – and it may not work.

An entrepreneurial approach is vital when it comes to networking. Dr Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, says that “if I could impart one piece of wisdom regarding networking and getting more referrals, it would be this: Networking is about farming for new contacts, not hunting them.”

It’s a point that needs to be made, because most business professionals go about networking the way our cave-dwelling ancestors went about hunting food–aggressively and carrying a big stick.

You’ll see them at any gathering of business people. They’re so busy looking for the next big sale or trying to meet the “right” prospect that they approach networking simply as an exercise in sifting through crowds of people until they bag the ideal client, the big customer who can turn their business around. They don’t have time for regular people like us; they’re stalking the director of marketing, chief operating officer or other high-octane connection, looking for the big kill.

Farmers take a different approach. They don’t waste time looking for the right person; instead, like those who plant seeds and patiently nurture their crops, they seek to form and build relationships wherever they can find them. If they get an immediate payoff, that’s fine, but it’s not their principal goal. They know that the effort expended upfront will pay off in a rich harvest later on – much richer then the hunter’s quick kill – and that truly profitable relationships can’t be rushed.

I’d like to say that the harder you work, the luckier you get. I think that’s really the secret to success. That is one of the reasons why in BNI I talk about systems and passion and applying these systems and being consistent in what you do. Being there week in and week out.

Why do we do it every week? Because it is about building those relationships. And building relationships takes time. You have to be dedicated to it. We talked about this in a previous year’s podcast. You can’t expect to get a ton of business in just a few months. It takes time and ongoing effort if you want to be a success.

I don’t believe in this overnight success stuff. There are very few people I have met who have been overnight successes and have sustained that success over time.

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