I think this isn’t really something that’s thought of too much. But when we choose professionals to work with, their connections can add so much value to us. Being aware of their network and what services they provide, can make our lives a lot easier. When someone you trust seems to have ‘a guy’ for every problem, it takes a lot of our worry away. Building a trusted network can be a major resource.
Let’s think of the example of getting ready to buy your first home. You might need a Financial Advisor to help you save for your house, a Real Estate Agent, Mortgage Specialist, House Insurance Agent, Life Insurance Agent, Lawyer, Home Inspector, maybe some Trades Professionals. It’s a long list, there there could be more. So it can be overwhelming to try to find each of those people on your own. On top of that, making sure they can do a great job for you.
I would say most people would know at least one person from one of those professions. Building a strong, trustworthy relationship with one person is a lot easier than half a dozen or more people. So just by focusing on one person, or that initial relationship, can take a lot of the ‘overwhelmingness’ out of it. So let’s look at some easy steps you can take to position yourself well, while building that trusted network. Your trusted network of professionals.
1. Build trust in that first relationship
As you’re doing your research and finding the right person to help you with your need, you’re essentially building trust and a relationship. Make sure that you’re being open and honest throughout the process. You want to make sure it’s a good fit for you, and they want to make sure you’re a good fit for them.
It’s important to get to know them not only on a business level, but slowly on a personal level. If they are going to be an Advisor for the next 10; 20; 40 years, you want to make sure it’s someone you like and can get along with. The last thing you want is dreading giving your Advisor a call because you despise them.
As you’re getting to know them, you’re going to find out about all of the services they provide. But it’s also just as important to find out what services they don’t provide, that you might need. What you want to make sure is they are honest about it. It’s reasonable that one person isn’t able to do everything, so what can they do about that?
The best thing they can do is be able to refer you to professionals that they trust and work closely with. Referring you to someone reflects on that person too, so it’s an important connection. The bonus of having a network on your side, too, is that they work closely together. They trust each other, know where their limits are, and the type of work each other should expect to see. It also will save you a ton of time and effort. You won’t have to Google search, hold interviews to find someone you like, and then try to coordinate everyone to work together.
2. Get to know the network
Once you have found the perfect person to help you, get in touch with their contacts, it’s good to get to know everyone. I would hope they’d reach out to you before you reach out to them. But either way, sit down for coffee, see their office, get a sense of who they are and what they specialize in. This is great for you, and it’s also great for them. The better you know them and their business, they better you are as a resource to refer more clients and make a positive impact on their business.
As you’re getting to know everyone, you may also be able to make some introductions. Maybe you know someone from an industry a professional is looking to connect with. There’s way more good than bad that can come from making an introduction. And you never know, sometimes the people you least expect to connect with turn out to be great clients or resources. It doesn’t hurt to take a chance, and I think everyone appreciates that small effort.
3. Take advantage
When someone gets a referral, there’s a lot of motivation to make sure that client is happy. If the client is unhappy, the person that referred them will hear about it, and it could lead to less referrals moving forward. Referral business is the simplest, but best kind of business. Nothing gets a great experience across to potential clients like a happy client.
Ask lots of questions, be honest throughout the process, and make sure any concerns of yours are properly addressed. In order for a network to really thrive, everyone needs to be on the same page, and have the same end goal in mind. So make sure your expectations are not only met, but exceeded. The happier you are, the happier everyone will be.
But really, what’s the point? What can a trusted network do for you?
Building a trusted network of professionals you can count on won’t have the same instant appeal as a 50% off sale sign, or a brilliant marketing campaign. But it will be able to save you not only a lot of money, but also a lot of time. And in a fast paced, not enough hours in the day kind of world that we live in, that is so important.
You won’t have to spend time researching, getting quotes, or running people through an ‘interview’. Also you should be able to avoid horrible experiences that cost you time and money. You’ll also be able to help out friends and family. Being able to refer someone and it working out perfectly is a great feeling. By asking the right questions, and putting in the effort to establish good relationships, you’ll save yourself a lot of pain down the road.
If gathering a network still seems like a daunting task, ask someone! A friend, family member, coworker, anyone. Ask them for a plumber, realtor, accountant, whatever you need. We all start at the same place, so we’ve all been in the same place. It’s as easy as having a conversation.
Just like most things, the first step is the hardest. But I’m pretty sure your future self will look back and be glad you took it.