Certainly, as you are getting your business established or even if you are an established business, you should be attending networking events that are appropriate to the audience that you are trying to engage. When I started my business over 14 years ago, I attended many networking events and it paid dividends. I established myself and my business in the Jacksonville, FL business community. When I attended those networking events, I identified an objective and established an approach that set myself apart from others in the room.

Let’s look at the details of what you should be doing when interacting with people at the networking event. First of all, DO NOT approach them to SELL them something. This is NOT the place to be selling. Second, DO NOT approach it as a challenge to collect the most business cards you can. You are there to make connections and find out if the person you just met is a good referral partner and you, likewise.

 So, let’s look at gaining a referral partner. It goes above and beyond asking if “you would refer me to anyone you come across that could use my services”. I attended an event a while back and an expert in gaining referrals, Jeff Tockman from The Referral Navigator, delivered a very informative “process” to gaining referrals. It involves asking about people with the person that you are talking, who he/she knows and respects.

Get specific names and then ask what are the strengths of the person you are interacting with. Once you establish those that have referred business and those that have had referrals provided, ask two key questions. What motivates you to provide referrals and what is your justification for providing referrals. Basically, why do you provide referrals and what do you expect in return, if anything.

I would welcome an opportunity to discuss this topic further and put you in touch with Jeff Tockman, so contact me at or call me 904.472.3706.