By understanding which professions really practice effective networking we can begin modeling our own activities into a set of best practices. In last weeks post we discussed how current and former customers are generally our best source of referral. Therefore the first place to focus our networking effort is to build a pool of resources that will help us better serve our customers - let’s call it customer centered networking. So who does this best?
Well I wouldn't be very true to the title of this blog if I did put doctors on the top of the list. I've interviewed hundreds of doctors to learn about their networking practices. Here are two unique attributes of why doctors are such good networkers:
- They specialize - Specialization allows doctors to be very specific about what they do and don’t do thereby empowering others to easily understand each doctor’s unique expertise. You would never see a dermatologist try to do the work of a pediatrician. This is significantly different than other professions where a sense of scarcity causes the practitioners to promote themselves generally...attorney, accountant, architect, consultant, etc. Have you ever heard someone at a networking event say that “everyone” is a prospect? This is not only naive, but it also disempowers the listener to make good connections. How can you possibly help someone make good connections to “everyone?” Specialists will always have and easier time networking than generalists. Doctors differentiate themselves and empower their network in a way that very few other professionals do.
- They are customer centered...I mean really customer centered - When you ask a doctor why they refer there is no confusion. Their only focus is to make the patience well. They refer the patient to the best resource they know regardless of their relationship with the resource. Other professionals are often compelled to refer based on loyalty to the service provider. They want to help a “friend” get business. This is not the case with doctors. Doctors are customer centered and have proven that healthy and happy patients make the best referral sources.
High performing Realtors are also great networkers. One of the most amazing things about Realtors is that they all have the same inventory. In most communities, it doesn’t matter which real estate office you go in, you can select from the same properties. So how do the high performing Realtors differentiate themselves and become a customer centered? They have a great network. They are hubs of knowledge and relationships in their community.
When a client has an accepted offer on a new home, high performing Realtors have a ready bullpen of resources that will help their client successfully acquire the property. Whether the client needs a mortgage broker, home inspector, or contractor the high performing Realtor can help.
The best Realtors have a variety of resources in each discipline so that no matter what the client needs they have the right referral. Whether the client has impeccable credit or is credit challenged the high performing Realtor refers the mortgage broker who best fits the customer need. If a high performing Realtor doesn't readily know a resource for a specific problem they leverage their network to uncover the best provider for the client.
A high performing Realtors network goes far beyond resources related to home sales and service, they know their community. If their client has children, the best Realtors can make introductions to the best daycare service and if the client has a particular hobby the Realtor can connect them to local opportunities to enjoy their hobby.
Customer centered networking is the key differentiator that puts doctors and high performing Realtors at the top of the networking food chain. By putting their patient and clients success above all other priorities, doctors and the best Realtors are regularly and passionately advocated by their customers.
- Specialists win in networking. None of us serves everyone. Make it easy for those you network with to understand what you do and who you do it for. Remember, the Anesthesiologist does not do surgery.
- Build a bullpen of resources to solve your customer’s challenges. Not only will you serve your clients better by connecting them to just in time knowledge and relationships, but you’ll also make networking a lot more fun. When you go to events, you’ll no longer focus on talking about you. You’ll focus on meeting and learning about people who would be good resources for your clients. Make sure that you get together with them after in their place of business. See their work. Stay in touch. Do this for 12 months. You’ll be amazed at the results!