You think that baseball is a slow game? It has nothing on networking.
Here is a story for you.
Many years ago I met a tax accountant named Michael. Capable guy. We built up a trusting relationship and referred business back and forth from that day forward to my retirement.
Pretty close to the outset of our relationship I met with a start-up client who I will call Peter. Peter needed a lawyer and an accountant. He thought that I was too expensive and went with a lower-cost lawyer. That’s okay. Things like that happen. But Peter also needed an accountant and I referred him to Michael.
Flash forward about fifteen years and Peter had built up a great business and was putting it up for sale for a good number of millions of dollars. Peter knew (or Michael told him) that his low-cost legal firm was not up for that job and asked Michael for a referral.
Michael referred Peter right back to me for the plum assignment.
A few lessons, here:
- Surround yourself with great referral sources. Capable people who know how to keep clients happy over the long term.
- Work at maintaining your relationships with your referral sources. Be loyal. Don’t be greedy.
- Sell your extended team of referral sources so that they will sell you.
Play the long game. Only refer your clients to people who you truly believe are a good match for them. The fact that they refer business to you does not necessarily make them a good match for your client.