Several months ago, I wrote a post on Civilian Networkers. Brief recap. Civilian networkers are those people who work 9-5 and don’t network for a living. They require some slightly different handling than small business owners who network as part of their job.
A couple of days ago, I met with a prospect. He’s a new sales person, and until this year, he’s spent 25 years working for other people. In other words, he used to be a civilian. Now he’s in sales, and he’s starting to learn how to network. And his civilian attitudes are getting in the way.
We were talking about how to network with others to find strategic partners, and he was asking about how to turn his potential strategic partners into clients. I said he didn’t need to. He could be referred by people who have never used his services. This stunned him.
Remember that one of the defining characteristics of civilians is that they will rarely refer someone they’ve never used. Civilians may only refer a handful of times in their life. Those referrals are usually to close friends and families so they are risky.
Business owners may give out hundreds or thousands of referrals in their life (I’ve given out over 100 in one year, so that statistic isn’t as off as you might think). And those referrals are not usually to friends or family members. We’re willing to accept a slightly higher risk when giving them.
It’s important for you to know this because new business owners can be very good people for you to network with. They are unlikely to have built many strong relationships with your competitors, which is a real opportunity for you.
But you might have to treat those new business owners a bit like your civilians until they unlearn their old habits.