Building a strong professional network is crucial for career advancement and business growth. In this article, I will discuss two important categories of people to grow your professional network: peer mentors and referral partners.
Peer mentors are individuals with specific knowledge or expertise who can coach you, while you have different knowledge or expertise to offer in return.
Referral partners are valuable for sales roles and entrepreneurship, as they help each other find opportunities and expand their networks.
To increase your peer mentors and referral partners, follow these three steps:
- Identify the people you want to connect with:
Consider individuals whom you believe you can add value to, and who can add value to you based on your own definition of “value.” You can connect with people through introductions from friends, engagement on social media, or virtual networking spaces such as breakout rooms. When approached to pitch a service, respond by suggesting a conversation to learn about each other’s offerings and potential customers, offering mutual advice.
- Reach out:
This step is critical to expanding your network. If you’re good at starting conversations, make sure to follow up and pursue them actively. If reaching out with a cold call, take action rather than just planning. Use email or LinkedIn to send messages, including the following templates:
“We met through this group/at this event, and I appreciated your insights on (fill in the blank). As you are an expert in (fill in the blank), I was wondering if I could seek your advice. I would be happy to share my expertise on (fill in the blank) and address any questions you may have. If you’re interested, let’s schedule a virtual meeting where we can help each other out.”
Referral partner call:
“While there are many things I do, there are also many things I don’t do. I always strive to be a resource for my clients, even if I’m not the solution provider. Would you be interested in a 30-minute call to learn about each other’s businesses and explore potential client referrals?”
Always include a scheduling tool to facilitate the next steps, as some recipients may immediately schedule the session.
- Get what you need out of the call:
Don’t hesitate to be clear about your expectations regarding time and value sharing. If someone agrees to a call focused on sharing leads, they expect this arrangement. Clearly define the agenda for the call. After a brief introduction, divide the remaining time to address each person’s needs. Peer coaching calls can be 30-60 minutes, while referral partner calls can be 20-30 minutes. Stick to the intentions you expressed in your outreach message.
During the call, feel free to ask for what you need without hesitation. Use peer coaching calls for role-playing difficult conversations, getting feedback on presentations, or conducting user tests. Referral partner calls should primarily focus on understanding each other’s businesses and potential client referrals.
By following these steps and maintaining clear expectations, you can make the most out of your connections and build a strong network of peer mentors and referral partners.
Are you inspired to expand your network now? If this post was helpful, please share it with a friend or post it on social media. You can also check out these professional networking strategies to make any conversation more engaging.