Many of us learn in the early days about the importance of one-to-ones. This is the golden opportunity to sit across from someone, outside of your weekly chapter meeting, who might be a natural referral source for you. More importantly you could be an important referral provider for them. Beyond our weekly “90 minutes in a room,” our one-to-ones are incredibly important to get to know our referral partners in a much more intentional and meaningful way.
As important as one-to-ones are, you may remember being in the middle of a one-to-one that was, well, a little slow? I remember back in my early days as a networker, a few one-to-ones that I had where time just crawled. I tried to avoid checking my watch every few minutes as I endured the agony of a sluggish one-to-one. I think I might have even asked myself the question, “Am I going to ever see my family again?” It was painful.
If you’ve experienced a one-to-one session such as this, it isn’t necessarily other person’s fault. Maybe they’re new to networking or they’re not comfortable talking about themselves. Even seasoned networkers can have an off-day. Whatever the reason, many times this is because the meeting lost focus along the way. Hey, it happens. It’s natural, especially for two people that are just getting to know one another. We’ve all been involved in a one-to-one with someone that well, may need some help. The fortunate thing however, is that help is very easy for someone that might be struggling (even if the person struggling is you).
BNI has taught us to rely on G-A-I-N-S, the acronym that stands for Goal – Achievements – Interests – Networks – Skills. It’s very easy to redirect a “wandering-the-woods” conversation. Simply go back to G-A-I-N-S, ask some open-ended questions:
Goals – What are some goals you have for this quarter? Next quarter? Were there any goals you didn’t hit last year? Why do you think that is?
Achievements – What are some things you’ve accomplished that you’re particularly proud of? What are some things that you’re close to achieving? What are some things you’d like to try if you weren’t worried about failing?
Interests – What do you find yourself doing when you’re not working? If you had the chance to do something else in your career, what would it be?
Networks – Where else do you spend your time networking? Have you been to any seminars in the last year?
Skills – What skills have you learned as a professional that make you the most effective at what you do? Have you ever mentored someone on skill that you have?
These are basic questions to get some creative juices flowing. The whole point is to provide a jump-start to the conversation so you can learn more about the person you’re sitting across from and how you can help them get more referrals. Don’t squander the opportunity to help someone. If you find that the conversation has become unfocused, refer to G-A-I-N-S to get things back on track, and put your foot on the gas.
Mark B. Dolfini is an Area Director for BNI Central Indiana and author of The Time-Wealthy Investor: Your Real Estate Roadmap to Owning More, Working Less, and Creating the Life You Want. www.LandlordCoach.com