Why would they want to connect with you?

This week, in the spirit of Make a Referral Week, I am writing about referrals.  Referrals spring from relationships (where we know, like and trust one another) and relationships spring from connections, networking, introducing yourself to communities.

The genesis is the connection.  Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Black Book of Connections http://is.gd/9YEic addresses the “how” to make connections and the more important “why” – why would they want to connect with you?

From his book (which I highly recommend and is a very easy read – no fluff, just meat) he poses these questions for his readers:

Why am I making this connection?

How am I going to make this connection?

Why would this person want to connect with me?

How am I going to keep up this connection once I’ve made it?

I’ll use myself as a guinea pig.  My resolution for 2010 was to become active in the Social Media Club Austin.

Why am I making this connection?  I want to integrate into to local community of social media thought leaders.  I want to learn from them and share what I have to offer.  This will allow me to be a better resource for my partners – my business reason for being.

How am I going to make this connection?  I will attend the monthly meetings and (even though I don’t know anybody and am the oldest person in the room) introduce myself to people.  Get to know about them, their business and who they serve.

Why would this person want to connect with me?  I am willing to share my experiences, best practices and once I have gotten to know, like and trust them, if they have a product or service that would be desired by someone in my other networks, I will refer them.

How am I going to keep up this connection once I’ve made it?  I ask to exchange Twitter and Facebook information.  I send them “it was nice to meet you” tweet or update.  When something reminds me of our conversation, I follow up.  I make a point of saying hello again when I see them at future meetings.

Gitomer goes on to write about the requirements of good connections:

There must be some intellectual or emotional attraction.

There needs to be some common ground established that is of mutual interest to pursue.

There must be some commitment to regular communication that has a “give” to it, rather than an “ask.”

There must be occasional face-to-face meetings.

If these elements are not there, the connection ceases to be.  Not all introductions will lead to connections.  That’s OK, but remember, if there are no new introductions, there will be zero new connections.  It’s important to meet new people.

I have been lucky to work with Jennifer Wilson in the past.  She shared with me her strategy when attending conferences – the priority is put on introductions and dialogue with new people.  It is easy to fall into our comfort zone and speak with long time friends to the exclusion of making those new connections.  She wasn’t advocating ignoring long time friends, but rather making new connections a priority.