Referrals in business: Your mindset is key

Do you ever think that some people just have a secret skill to generating referrals? That some people are just naturally good at it?  That it’s a knack that you just don’t have? What if I told you that this secret skill is something you have too?  Would you believe me? Well, read this true story from a workshop I recently ran with a law firm to find out how you too can generate more referrals in business.

When you think you have nothing to gain

I was waiting to begin, but the lead partner of this firm hadn’t appeared. What should I do? Get going on what was going to be a packed day, or wait for the person who was, after all, the person paying? Luckily, I didn’t have to make the call, because at that moment, he came in and sat down with a swift apology. He looked tired and tense, and I wondered if the prospect of my workshop was making him this way.  As part of the ice-breaker, I invited everyone to share what they would like to achieve during the day. When it came to his turn, he apologised that he was not going to be able to be there for more than a couple of hours.  He was pre-booked on an annual networking event, that he couldn’t get out of. And he was dreading it. When asked to explain, he told us that it wasn’t the event itself, but that the people he really clicked with travelled there in different ways, while he always went along with several colleagues ‘of a certain age’ who were (his words) “all boring old farts.”  They were all approaching retirement and spoke about nothing but how they were exiting their business. He had little in common with them, and found the journey tedious.

How does your mind-talk set you up for a bad time?

We spoke about ‘mind-talk’.  That little voice in our heads that never quite shuts up.  I asked him what his mind-talk was saying, and was it being helpful or a hindrance? He’s a bright guy, he got it immediately. His mind-talk was putting him off what could be a great networking opportunity.  The voice in his head was repeating: “Boring, waste of time, dull, nothing in common. . .” No surprise really that he got what he expected! The workshop continued, he left for his event looking much more hopeful. Towards the end of the day, one of the delegates shared an email from him: “Business development in action!   I changed my attitude and went with a curious and open mindset for the journey to the event. As a result, I’ve agreed three first meetings for members of the team and picked up one new piece of work!”

What does this teach us?

When you go out (or stay in!) to network, you must adopt the right mindset for meeting strangers and building relationships with them.  If you go with preconceptions that “I have nothing in common with these boring old farts” then you are going to be right.    You must turn your mind-chatter around to “I wonder what I can learn from their years of experience?” When your automatic response to networking events is: “I will feel awkward, I won’t know anybody there.” Change it to: “A chance to meet lots of interesting new people, many of whom, just like me, will be anxious that they don’t know anybody else.” Before you set out for a networking event, tune in to your mind-talk.  Is it telling you the right things to make the event a success?    Read this article about ways to prepare for a conference – they will turn a waste of time into a networking triumph. More articles on why attitude is so important: Five ways to train your mind to get great results from networking events The single most important factor in successfully making partner

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