How To Grow Your Referral Engine Virtually | Dan Horwich

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Dan is an active networker. He focuses on making a difference in the professional lives of IT practitioners, VPs of Sales, and CROs. Dan developed a company called Camp IT, of which he is currently the President and Executive Director. Camp IT provides virtual and on-site conferences. Before Covid, the business was 100% in-person. In the second week of March 2020, Dan shifted it to 100% virtual, and since doing that, the business has grown tremendously.

Dan’s family started Camp IT thirty-seven years ago. Before that, Dan was a salesperson in IT, so he has gone through the whole range of cold-calling, hunting, farming, and all the different required skills. And those skills are different from the skills required when running your own business.

Over time, Dan has noticed that people buy from those they trust, those with integrity, and those with credibility. 

The challenge for many entrepreneurs lies in knowing what to do right now, given the current environment, and knowing how to scale when customers are not at their desks. Dan explains that the key to that is leveraging the relationships that you have. Although Dan has built some great relationships over the past couple of decades, he understands that you cannot just rest on past relationships. You need to keep on building new ones and stay focused on finding a common thread with individuals, even if it has nothing to do with business. 

You are always one degree away from someone who is potentially a buyer, just by figuring out the commonalities you have with individuals, establishing that baseline, and asking for introductions. The key to that is that you never ask for introductions until you have given introductions to someone.

Dan attributes the growth of his business to speeding up his networking efforts, flipping to virtual, and positioning himself. 

The key to networking is going a lot deeper than just meeting people and figuring out how to help each other. Think about individuals as human beings who are trying to put food on the table. Dan always thinks about how he can make his attendees more effective. And give them insights, help them indirectly to get promoted, and help them articulate the successes they have had with their businesses. From the sponsor side, he thinks about how he can establish a connection between the sponsors and the buyers in the virtual world. 

Dan’s secret sauce is based on relationships and connections that go back decades.

With networking, you have to always think about the human side of it. That means you need to step back, get rid of what you are trying to pitch, consider people’s worries, concerns, fears, needs, and desires, get to know them as people, and help them in their personal lives.

Dan reaches out to people by getting to know them, establishing a human connection, and thinking about their human needs and what is in it for them. The pitching is not most important. Creating a human relationship is most important. Let the conversation flow rather than asking direct questions. And you should know what your ‘why’ is, and what their ‘why’ is.

Dan looks at LinkedIn as a place for him to connect with people where he can reach out and help them. 

When you give a whole lot before you take anything, it separates you in several ways. Firstly, you will be seen genuinely, and people will know that you truly care. Most of the time, when people get helped by someone else, they either want to pay it forward to someone else, or they want to pay it back. Either way, you are creating goodwill.

The best way to network is to go out and help people. Those that respond could potentially introduce you to other like-minded people. In that way, you could get ten to fifteen introductions just by extending yourself to those who need help. 

You can join some online groups that are trying to make a difference, where people are volunteering. In that way, you can meet like-minded people. 

Don’t only reach out to those who are your direct prospects. Reach out to the people who would possibly sit between you and those people, who are connected to other targets and could make a trusted introduction to your intended target.

To better understand the human side of someone and show that you care, you need to think about what they could be going through right now. You can assume that there are five things that they could be thinking about:
They could have fought with their spouse the night before.
They could be trying to get their child into college, and they are paying for it.
They could be figuring out when to retire.
They might be figuring out when to take a vacation.
They could have an ill parent or relative.

Behind every buyer is a human being who has the same stresses as everyone else.

Separate your business or corporate brand from your personal brand. The personal brand is who you are as a professional, and that is not necessarily tied to the company you work for. Your personal brand has to be full-service because not every salesperson has a unique understanding of the individual, nor do they necessarily value the individual beyond the buyer. People want to be heard, and they want to know that someone cares.

Be firm while you are being generous because there are some advantage-takers out there.

Dan shares an excellent process for networking:
You need to join an online networking group with a ‘pay it forward’ mentality.
Go in there with the idea of opening your network and giving.
You need to introduce each person you come into contact with within the networking group to two or three people who could be connectors.
When you meet new people, don’t just pitch them. See if they can introduce you to other people because constantly introducing people will build your network and your street cred. And that will lead to opportunities for you.
Once you receive those opportunities, you can start selling.

You need to be aware and understand everyone in your ecosystem. 

Dan likes to do ‘Pay it Forward Fridays’ where he calls up four people who he met during the week, after promoting them on LinkedIn, and introduces them to each other. 

It all starts with going out there with the idea of helping people.

If you are a good networker, your success is how successful you have made other people.

Links and resources:

Contact Dan on LinkedIn

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