Tracking the origin of your referrals may help you hone your networking skills
Photo by Dawn Ellner
As far as I'm concerned, those things that get measured get improved. In particular I try to track the results of my networking efforts.
Did I make a sale? How much? How long did the sales process take? Was this a direct sale or was it a referral? What was the quality of the referral (anything from just a name all the way to a signed contract)?
In the case of referrals, one of the most important things I track is where or from whom that referral came. I do this for several reasons:
- Make sure I express my gratitude. Regardless of whether a referral turns into business for me, it's tremendously important to recognize and thank the source.
- Check my return on investment. If I do get business as a result of attending an event or as a result of meeting a fellow member of a group, I can see what my return on the investment of time and money in that particular group. This will inform my decision of whether to continue with a particular group. So, for example, Bob Smith might have given me the referral, but I met Bob at the chamber lunch event. I'll give credit to both the event (the lunch) and the group (the chamber) for purposes of analyzing which events and groups I attend.
- Referral source training. Of course, I'm grateful for any referrals the people in my network might pass to me. Still, if the referral isn't appropriate to me, my connection deserves to know. It should go without saying that I have to be diplomatic about this. It's only fair though, that I let them know, so they don't continue to waste their time passing me referrals which just aren't a good fit.
- Networking. Again, regardless of whether the referral is successful, I can still use that referral as an excuse to get in touch with my referral source.
- New referral sources. Knowing from where the referral originated may lead me to new events, organizations or categories of networkers whom I should cultivate to achieve my networking goals
So, be sure to track the results of your networking with just as much detail (or more) as you track the networking itself. A regular analysis of the numbers should give you a good feel for how your networking is progressing and whether you need to make some adjustments in your style.
After all, we all only have a finite amount of time to make our connections. Make that time pay off by continually improving the networking activities you pursue.
Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to www.thereluctantnetworker.com.