Leveraging Your Relationships

One of the most valuable, yet often underused, resources available to the average practitioner in this business are the relationships they build with hundreds and, perhaps, thousands of individuals they encounter while doing their work. These relationships cross a wide spectrum from potential prospects and clients to candidates and recruits. Each of these individuals has their own base of knowledge and skills, as well as a personal and professional network of relationships.Considering the concept of “six degrees of separation,” a comment my daughter made to one of her friends many years ago holds a great truth. In a casual conversation she stated that, “My Dad doesn’t know everyone but he knows people who know everyone.”Think about that for a moment in the context of your own professional life. How many individuals do you encounter in the course of a normal business day? A week? A Month? For most of us the numbers are staggering. Now consider the personal and professional networks each of these individuals possesses that, under the proper circumstances, you could potentially access. The possibilities are endless.Most of you have no doubt been trained in how to build your personal and professional networks and to utilize them as a source for potential clients, candidates and temporaries. This is a process for leveraging relationships that is familiar to most everyone. However, there is another form of relationship leveraging that very few in our industry ever utilized, or for that matter, even know exists.In a recent article I referenced that we need to serve as an “information conduit” while working the internals of our process. In reality, there is another time where being an information conduit can serve as a powerful tool for leveraging your relationships. That time is at the conclusion of a prospecting call or in follow-up conversations with your established clients.Having had the opportunity to review and critique thousands of calls made by hundreds of recruiters, consultants and account representatives, I am continually amazed be the sameness of the discussions, particularly the closing comments. Most of these calls end with a comment that is some variation of the following:

“Is it alright if I send you some information on our company?”

Or

“Is it okay if I call you back in a couple of months?”

Or

“Well, I’ll stay in-touch to see if you have any needs.”

Sound familiar?Remember: Next to your opening remarks, which will determine whether or not you engage the prospect in a two-way directed business dialogue, the most crucial element of the call will be your closing remarks. These remarks will support or perhaps even create the professional positioning you require in order to be viewed as a viable service provider.If your call produced a two-way directed business dialogue but did not result in an immediate opportunity to be of service, your closing remarks could be similar to the following:

“Based on our discussion, it is apparent that a follow-up call would be in order. I’ll take the responsibility for that call and considering the nature of your current situation, it would be prudent for us to talk again on (nail down a specific date and time). Does that seem reasonable to you?”

Make certain you document the date and time for your follow-up call. Making your call as agreed upon will heighten your credibility with the prospect/client, as well as providing you with an opening comment or “bridge” to your next discussion.Now, it is at this time on the call that you can dramatically build your professional positioning by leveraging your established relationships. This can be accomplished by offering to serve as an “information conduit” in a manner similar to the following:

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“Meanwhile, I’ll send you my business card. On it you will find all of my contact information and here is something to keep in mind. By the very nature of my business, I have developed an extensive and comprehensive cross-referenced network of contacts. That’s important for you to know if you encounter a problem or have a question and you are not certain where to turn for an answer or solution. Under those circumstances give me a call. Now it is quite possible that I will not have an answer or solution for you. On the other hand, it is very likely that I can put you in-touch with someone from my network of contacts who can answer your question or provide a solution.””Think of me as an information conduit. My network of contacts proves its value consistently on a daily basis and could be of benefit to you as well.Bottom line; consider me as the access point to those resources. Give it consideration and call me if I can be of service. Fair enough?”

Most often the prospect/client is surprised by this closing offer because they are thinking of you in a singular dimension. However, your offer of assistance helps position you as a potential multi-faceted asset for them. Nevertheless, they may ask “why” you would be willing to do this. You could respond in a fashion similar to the following:

“My offer is legitimate and sincere. What I am trying to convey is the value that exists in building a relationship with me. When the proper circumstances present themselves, give me a call and take advantage of my contacts and resources. It will cost you nothing and may very well be of immediate benefit.”

In order to back up this offer and serve as a valuable information conduit, you need to know the sources in your network at a depth that is far greater than the norm for our industry. However, the extra time and effort it takes to truly understand how to identify the right contacts will pay off many times over as you leverage those relationships while improving your professional positioning. Although they may not immediately take advantage of your offer, in most instances, it will help differentiate you on a qualitative basis from your competition.Additionally, it could be the starting point for a long-term professional relationship, the level of which is rarely achieved by practitioners within our industry.You already have the network of relationships. Now it is just a matter of knowing how to leverage those relationships in order to be of greater value to all those you serve.As always, I welcome your comments and questions.

Recipient of the Harold B. Nelson Award, Terry Petra is one of our industry's leading trainers and consultants. He has successfully conducted in-house programs for hundreds of search, placement, temporary staffing firms and industry groups across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, England, and South Africa. To learn more about his training products and services, including PETRA ON CALL, and BUSINESS VALUATION, visit www.tpetra.com. Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or click to email him.

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