By Gail Stolzenburg
Did you know that 98% of entrepreneurs rely on networking and referrals to build their business?
And, only 3% have a networking plan? Do you have a plan?
Throughout the day we are exposed to a number of hidden referrals that we miss because we are forgetting to focus on them. Thank goodness we have a part of the brain that can do the work for us.
It is called the Reticular Activating System (RAS), a bundle of neurons found in your brain, about the size of a very large pencil, which acts as a filter for deciding what is important or unimportant. For a networker, this could possibly mean living an extraordinary life.
Here are some examples of RAS: (1) if you were in a large crowded room with announcements being made and your name is called, you would pick up on it immediately, (2) you had just purchased a new red sports car and when you went for a drive you began noticing a number of red sports cars on the road, (3) when you hear a new word, you begin hearing it in every conversation, (4) Dr. Ivan Misner, the Father of Modern Networking, talks about being able to sleep through anything, even an automobile accident occurring right outside his front door. But, when he got married and they had their first child, he would wake up when there was just a simple whimper. You may have had some of the same experiences. That is your RAS in action.
Our problem in networking is that we are paying too little attention to the clues we receive about referrals. You need to listen to the “Language of Referrals” and the clues being left for you.
So, what are some of the clues you should be listening for? When you hear someone say, “Do you know”, “I need”, “I want”,” I don’t know how”, “I can’t”, the next few words will probably describe a potential referral you can give someone. All you need to be doing is to pay attention to the phrases which indicate there is a need of something, then find a referral to help the person. You will become the “Go-To-Guy” and people will be asking your advice, recommendations, and referrals.
Instead of giving referrals to someone else, you really wanted referrals for yourself, right? There is the paradigm shift from getting the referral for you to giving it to someone else. It’s called the Law of Reciprocity, Givers’ Gain®, Servant Leadership, or just Give to Get. The top networkers always begin by listening to the other person and then giving referrals based on the information they have learned. You will receive many more referrals using that philosophy. Read “The Go-Giver” by Bob Burg and John David Mann to learn more about applying this new thought process.
How can your RAS help you get the referrals you want? Champion basketball players visualize making the 3-pointer. Artists visualize the final result. If you think about a specific referral you want to receive, your RAS will detect it is important to you and focus on getting it. Vision boards, goal setting, sticky notes, and daily journals are all part of the process. RAS can never be defined as being all-powerful but it does respond to your desires.
Here is a three step process that may help you train your Reticular Activating System::
- Define specifically what you want, let’s say it’s a referral for a specific business project.
- Imagine the experience you will have when you receive the referral.
- Create a video in your mind of exactly how your life will be in the future when you achieve what you want. Employ all of your senses: notice what you are seeing, how it makes you feel, the sounds you are hearing, a taste in your mouth, and feel the things you are touching.
Many people will make a list and keep it with them at all times. Brian Tracy rewrites his goals every morning.
So, instead of sitting back and waiting for it to happen, you must get into action. Prepare for your networking sessions, know who is attending, develop an agenda and goals for the session, focus on listening rather than talking, ask questions, be interested rather than interesting, develop the habit of Toni Harris Taylor and set at least three appointments at each networking event, and follow up with a thank you note.
You may have heard about “The Law of Attraction” and now it may seem less mystical. By becoming more aware of want you want and tuning in to the right information, your RAS can help you succeed. However, there is no magic or silver bullet in networking. You must expend the effort to produce the results. When you learn to utilize your Reticular Activating System, you will produce more referrals for others and generate more referrals for yourself. You can start applying this approach to the other areas of your life like family, career, and adventure. You will be amazed.
Your Network is Your Wealth!