Professional networking is crucial to successful business development, but it is often an aimless, inefficient endeavor. It mostly consists of strangers in suits making small talk over lunch in search of “synergies.”
I reduced my participation in these soulless interactions significantly after being introduced to a relationship-building model called “Know, Like, Trust, Refer.” It was developed by ProVisors (a national networking organization) and it posits that only when you know someone, can you determine if you like them well enough to network with them. And only when you trust them (personally and professionally) are you likely to refer business to them. If you subscribe to the concept, your next interaction with a referral source will be much more directed. Rather than discussing whatever is top-of-mind in the hopes that it nurtures your contact, you can take a moment to consider where they fall on the KLTR spectrum.
- Know: This goes beyond making the initial connection. Do you have a basic understanding of who they are as a person, the kinds of clients they work with, and what their work entails? If not, include the appropriate questions in your next interaction.
- Like: Certainly, chemistry and commonalities have a lot to do with the people whose company we enjoy. If you find your referral relationship lacking in this regard, try meeting over a drink or engaging in a mutually interesting activity. Positive shared experiences often make up the fabric of our closest connections.
- Trust: A person’s referral-worthiness is mostly defined by their competence and expertise. You can accelerate this assessment by asking for their advice on a topic that falls within their wheelhouse. Once you experience their good advice first hand, you will be more willing to expose your clients to it.
- Refer: Once Know, Like, and Trust are in place, referring becomes much easier, but remember that the dynamic is reciprocal. You can not expect to only receive referrals, you have to be willing to give them too.
Getting to know another human being is never a tidy, linear process. And while there is no instruction manual to walk you through all the steps, the KLTR model can provide a little structure and save you some time.
Authored by David Ackert