As a business owner, you have many professional connections such as bankers, lawyers, accountants, and insurance agents. Your professional connections are one of the most overlooked sources that can provide you with valuable advice, additional connections, and act as currency when it comes to making network deposits.
One of the most overlooked professional connections that every business owner should be sure to cultivate, especially if the business serves other businesses, is with their business bankers.
Unfortunately, most business owners see their banker as someone who can only negatively affect their business or someone that just provides a service and not as a key contact with whom they should create a deeper and more personal and professional connection.
What many business owners forget is that their business bankers work with other businesses. Many of these businesses could likely use the products or services that your business offers. Therefore, business bankers can become a valuable source of business referrals. More importantly, a business banker will know the financial situation of any business they referred. A business banker that wants to maintain a personal or professional connection with you would never refer a prospect that they feel would be a bad contact for your business.
Most business owners meet with their bankers only when they request a meeting. Rather than wait for your business banker to ask you to lunch, take the initiative and ask your business banker to lunch. Tell them you want to discuss the current and future state of your business. Rather than have your business banker ask you for your financial information, take the initiative and proactively provide them regularly to maintain the relationship. If you make their job easier, you will be more memorable, and they will be more forthcoming with information that may help you and your business. Some of my most valuable connections were referrals from my business bankers.
Just like bankers, your lawyer, accountant, and business insurance agent also know lots of potential business prospects. Unfortunately, most business owners ignore their professional connections since, like the banker, they too often just see them as vendors and not potential connectors.
What do you know about your professional connections outside of their business role? To create a deeper and more personal relationship, spend some time doing a little research. Look them up on Reference USA Lifestyle Database to learn more about how they spend their money. Check out their social media profiles such as Facebook, Instagram, and of course LinkedIn. Google their name to see what comes up. Today, you can learn a lot about other people through the Internet but few people care enough to learn anything personal about their professional connections.
For example, when I looked up my wealth management banker Karl Schwinck for an upcoming meeting, I discovered that he plays shortstop for a local senior men’s baseball league. While I always knew he was a major baseball fan since he often shared on his bucket list that he wanted to watch a baseball game in every major league ballpark, I never knew that he also played baseball.
Make sure you know if your professional connections are married, have children or pets. You want to look for anything that overlaps your interests with theirs so you can be relatable and more memorable during conversations.
H2 Network Deposits
One of the best ways to create value for your professional connections, so that they return the favor and help you, is to make network deposits.
If you can get several of your professional contacts to sit down for a lunch and discuss the present and future state of your business, it will not only allow each of your contacts to interact and brainstorm solutions for your business, but it will also create a fertile environment for your professional connections to make new and valuable professional connections of their own. These types of network deposits will eventually come back to you.
The undisputed master of network deposits and the person that introduced me to most of my current professional connections was Dan Nowels, my insurance agent. Every six months or so, he would invite me to lunch. When I showed up at our lunch appointment he was never alone. He always had someone that provided some type of business or professional services, such as a bookkeeper, CPA, banker, or lawyer.
Once seated, Dan would begin by introducing me and my business to the other person, making sure to stroke my ego and making me seem very valuable to the other party. Not only was Dan making network deposits into my account, but he was giving his guest reasons to include me in their shortlist of professional contacts as well. After what was always a wonderful introduction, Dan’s guest would ask me questions about my business so that they could see if there was any way they could help me directly or through an introduction to another party. In nearly every situation, Dan’s guest was so helpful that I asked them if they would consider accepting me as a new client.
Your professional connections should be considered as business assets. Not only are they someone that you should spend time and energy to get to know so you can mine them for quality leads, but the connections are something you can trade to create network deposits for others that will frequently come back in ways you unanticipated.
Are you taking advantage of your professional connections?