POI – Person or People of Influence also used as Person of Interest are among the most important contacts you make in any part of business, but have the ability to make or break it for those that are in sales. Essential it is what social media is today before social media was around, with much higher success ratios. The key is determining what is the proper POI for you and your company, business, or job.
Allan is a recently graduated CPA that joins a growing accounting firm. Realizing that business development is a team wide effort the firm encourages everyone from the front desk to a new hired CPA to bring in new clients in forms of awards, bonuses and perks. Aside from family and friends where is Allan going to be able to make a good impression and gain these perks with no business experience, fresh out of college? This scenario like any other requires to focus on the starting piece of this puzzle.
- Profession, Trade, Industry
Some might say this is a simple equation; if you are an electrical contractor you should be mingling with general contractors, if you are a dental supplies salesman you should be hanging out well wherever it is dentists hang out. Those are not POI, those are prospects or clients for them. A good question for an electrician would be, “who are the people who are commonly asked for a referral for an electrician, or those that are often in need of one. Such as the manager of an apartment complex, a plumbing company, or an air conditioning company.
Since I brought up Allan the CPA, I’ll finish that thought. Once Allan decides on which area of accounting specialty he wants to focus on it narrows down where he should start. If Allan chooses restaurants as his focus, then a good POI for him to get to know would be a beverage company rep. If he catered to dentists, he would benefit from networking with……a dental supply company. Here is the thing – by working together with a POI that is already interacting with people in your target prospective industry from a different angle and need it is if you have a personal representative for what you can do for companies that you might never get the chance to meet.
Time is so crucial for everyone. A great Maxim by Harvey Mackay that I have in my office is, “Time is free, but it’s priceless. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can;t keep it but you can spend it. Once you lost it you can never get it back”. Networking groups are a great way to get your message out to others however if not done the right way are a complete waste of your time and the others in the group.
- Choosing the Right Networking Group
Instead of choosing a networking group based on the group as a whole, it should be chosen based on the actual members of that group. Are there people involved that interact with the type of clients you are after? If an architect joins a group full of lawyers, physicians, and accountants I would say he is in the wrong group and look for one that has a general contractor, space planner, developer, interior designer that are part of the group.
A big mistake that many people make when joining networking groups are that they focus on getting business from the actual members rather than showing that they can help the other members clients, which is a benefit to them as well. Eventually the actual members will use you as well. And yes it is very typical for the members to want to try you out personally first before referring you out. But know that your “end game” is to be referred to their network as an expert that they vouch for.
Networking, which I will go into more in depth in my next post, is about stop selling and start to helping. Be a resource. Find a group that has like-minded professionals that understand that they are there to meet people who they will enjoy doing business with, and want to help others, and magical things will happen. Find that group and hold onto to that membership like it was a golden ticket. This is scaling the whole POI method.
- “Go To” People
You know them. They are the trustworthy knowledgeable people within you community, company, or family that everyone including yourself goes to for advice on almost anything. These POI are well connected, reliable, and have nothing but your best interest in mind. These are the rock stars of potential referral bases. If one of the wizards send you a referral it is hand wrapped with a bow on top. Their recommendation alone should get you the business, now just don’t screw it up.
The real question is how do you become one of the tools in this rock star’s arsenal. If you are a commercial realtor, how do you become the top name this POI g-d thinks of when someone asks who he recommends to help find his manufacturing company new warehouse space?
You need to become his “Go To” guy. If he needs whatever service or product you company provides is easier, but the hard part is how to prove yourself worthy if he directly does not? Involve him. Ask him to lunch, tell him a scenario in your business and ask how he would advise to handle it. Show him his value to yourself. Make him interested in you. then just talk. If you truly believe in who you are and what you do, your enthusiasm should just spill over. Get him excited. This is bigger than presenting to a potential big client, this is a shot at multiple distribution for you. And it doesn’t happen overnight. It will take time but if you are genuine and sincere and he or she is in fact a “Go To Guy” then they will value what you have to give himself and more importantly everyone they know.
Here is a great article from a months back in Inc Magazine “Smarter ways to work your connections” that is a good reference as well.
Zig Ziglar said it best, “You will get all you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.”