By: Ivan Misner
Some business people seem to have all the luck. The right people just seem to put themselves in the path of these lucky people, ready to introduce them to people who will give them all the business they could ever desire. Do you know any people like this? Then you should also know that it’s likely more than just luck that brings a deluge of referrals their way. These people likely have built strong “power teams” for themselves.
A power team is a group people of complementary professions. They work with the same clients, but do not take business away from each other. Great examples of these are easily found in the real estate and wedding industries. A realtor, mortgage broker, building inspector, title agency, and a real estate attorney all service clients looking to purchase property. A wedding planner, photographer, and florist are among the many professions that cater to the bride-to-be. If these professions form a power team, when one person in the team gets business, he or she can refer the client to every other member in the team.
So it’s more than just luck. Successful business people have the ability to select and cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with high-quality people in strategically important business categories, and this ability is a core competency for maximum success in networking.
So how do you cultivate such relationships? It’s vital that you find out as much as possible about your partners so that you can send the right kind of business their way. You need to learn what makes your power team partner special as a person, as well as how to recognize your partner’s best prospects.
As a result, you can be an effective “bragging buddy” for your partners. As a bragging buddy, your job is to help prospects like, trust and want to do business with your power team…while they are doing the same thing for you.
Here are the 10 important questions you should ask your power team partner, as well as some tips for helping you take full advantage of the information you gain:
1. How did you get started in your business?
This is a great icebreaker question. Sometimes knowing what motivated your networking partner to get into their particular business enables you to give stronger testimonials about him or her.
2. What do you enjoy most about what you do?
Telling a prospect that your networking partner loves what they do and why, with details and stories, is very important in helping the prospect “like” your power team partner.
3. What separates you and your company from the competition?
You are looking for “bullet points” that can be told quickly and easily to the prospect to illustrate why you can be trusted to do a good job.
4. What advice would you give someone starting out in your business?
Asking someone for advice shows respect and is essential for building credibility with your networking partner on the road to profitability.
5. What are the coming trends in your business or industry?
If your power team partner has detailed information and strategies on how to profit from upcoming trends, you might learn something of value. Conversely, if your networking partner is too preoccupied with daily business to have any input here, it is an opportunity for you to help them with any trends you see that might affect their business. Build rapport by taking an active interest in your power team partner’s business.
6. What strategies have you found to be the most effective in promoting your business?
This question leads to brainstorming for each other’s business and stimulates the exchange of marketing and promotion ideas, as well as business building in general.
7. If there were anything about your business or industry you could change, what would that be?
This question, in addition to building rapport, allows your power team partner to discuss business freely and provides you with the opportunity to suggest solutions or at least gain a better understanding of the challenges they face.
8. What is the next big event coming up for you?
This question almost always results in referral opportunities if followed up correctly.
9. What is your biggest challenge at the moment?
The answer will provide insight into your networking partner’s business and life to help you understand him or her more as a person, as well as possibly uncovering money on the table with referral opportunities for the power team.
10. What type of customers are you looking for?
How will I recognize a good prospect for you? What are some specific situations are your targeted prospects experiencing?
OK, this is really three questions. In essence, the more vivid picture your networking partner paints of who and what they are looking for, the greater the probability of you recognizing their targeted prospects, giving a compelling testimonial and creating a money-making referral.