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Knotworking: Beyond networking

Laura Lynn Burke
Jan 21, 2010

Networking is the sharing of referrals. Knotworking is the sharing of abilities, resources and knowledge. It is through knotworking that you will understand the power and benefits of investing in relationships. Networking was a must in the past, in today’s marketplace “Knotworking” will be your survival. You’re losing money! Everyday that you are not talking to somebody, you miss an opportunity to knotwork. By using the art of “knotworking” which is a word I coined, you will become more effective at networking, know when the best time to ask for a referral is, and once you have the referral, you will know how to take it to the next level. The difference between networking and knotworking is the same difference between a transactional sale and a relational sale. Networking, like the transactional sale, is for today coupled with the attitude of “What’s in it for me?” Networking is the exchange of superficial pleasantries between parties and then comes, “What’s in it for me?” The other party counters, “What I need is referrals.” Knotworking, on the other hand, is creating teams, forming partnerships and building relationships through trust, loyalty and mutual respect. It’s a bond, a unity, a tie or knot that strongly holds those involved together like finely woven fabric. It’s the difference between being a thread or a piece of finely woven fabric. It’s a team or group effort of promoting one another and mutually benefiting, void of the “What’s in it for me?” attitude. That attitude doesn’t exist in knotworking. In knotworking, all (team members or groups) are working towards long-term goals, binding win-win relationships—relationships that both nurture and feed one another. I remember hearing a story about a town trying to build a very large monument of stone many, many years ago. The men in the town would hoist large stones up with a rope and pull. Eventually, the statue became too tall for any one person to pull the single rope up and lift the stone. They stumbled upon the idea of braiding the single ropes they had together, and tying them, this added strength to the rope, and they used a team of men to pull the ropes with the very large stones to the top. This story exemplifies two key points, the tying and braiding of the ropes made the rope stronger, like a group of people with similar thoughts bonding together to make a difference, the second is that by working together as a team they were able to lift much heavier stones than trying to do so individually. This old story reflects my theory on knotworking implicitly. The difference between networking and knotworking By understanding the difference between networking and knotworking, you will become more productive and profitable, by eliminating cold calls, phone-a-thons and unproductive, busy work that wastes your time, replacing it with knotworking. I once heard Dr. Kerry Johnson, author of Mastering the Game: The Human Edge in Sales and Marketing said, “The definition of a ‘top producer’ is someone who has the ability to make cold calls, but never actually has to. Nine out of 10 cold calls will end in rejection, while seven out of 10 referral-based calls will gain new business.” We’re facing serious challenges with business as we know it. Our industry is faced with extreme changes, including slow downs and shut downs. In the mortgage business, we routinely see new rules and regulations, less lenders and tightened guidelines, while technology continues to expand our marketing capabilities. Our business is referral driven, so you must learn to combine traditional methods of networking with current technology in order to take control of your business. In order to win in today’s marketplace, you cannot afford to make a wrong move. Knotworking provides solutions and the tools to prepare you for higher levels of networking that will be expected. Knotworking will put you on the cutting-edge by learning where to mine for referrals, how to build strong alliances with bonds that tie and give you knowledge to create your own hubs or referral trees that will keep you flourishing. Knotworking isn’t something you can turn on and or off. It’s an ongoing process that you continuously improve and perfect. Some people are natural born networkers or have acquired the skill somewhere during their childhood; others must learn the skill and techniques. Our most important skills can be learned. Once you’ve started to knotwork, you will never want to stop. It will be a dynamic tool you can use to build your business. Now is the time to take action, start knotworking, forming alliances, building relationships, bonding and partnering today! Many individuals refer to networking as an activity that is done for the benefit of obtaining business, but knotworkers understand that networking is an activity that can be used for purposes other than business gains. Knotworkers know that true knotworking can lead to life-long relationships that often become great friendships. I am stressing the importance of knotworking, not for a specific need, but for the gain of new and lasting relationships. A comparison would be a transactional salesperson or a relational salesperson? Which one are you? Are you a transactional person or a relational person? A transactional person is in the mindset of what’s in it for the moment. “I need to close this transaction, and if I never hear or see from you again, so be it.” The relational person is quite the opposite. The main focus is to make this experience a positive one for you, as well as build a bond, friendship, or unity of some form, regardless how weak or strong. It’s the initial tie that the relational person is looking for. Therefore, in my eyes they are a knotworker. While there are far too many achievers pushing to succeed at whatever the cost may be, individuals and team members become dispensable, when necessary. This has become an acceptable business practice. It is an inexcusable to use an act in this manner to propel yourself forward. We must look at business differently. Knotworking, combined with “networkology” is the key to the future, and more importantly, basic principles that individuals are people and are to be treated with kindness and respect. One never knows who could be a diamond in the rough. Through knotworking, you can start building those ties and bonds today. Free Fall Networking I went to a convention in Atlanta for one of my business ventures. I walked away with three potential deals for another business in which I was involved in. I also made two new friends and one acquaintance who shared a great story with me. I encountered these other business transactions for two reasons. ► First, the woman I was traveling with, a friend Betty had a great deal of respect for me within the industry and felt comfortable referring me to her friends, because she trusted me. She opened the door for conversations and it was up to me to build the relationship and ask for the business. A referral. ► Second is what I call “Free Fall Networking.” No, you’re not networking without a net, but you really aren’t there for business nor did you plan or position yourself to be there. It’s an event that leads you to unexpected knotworking opportunities. You bond almost instantaneously with someone, and before you know it, you’re doing business together. This is considered “Free Fall Networking.” Planned networking is when we plan to meet a certain person or to do something, such as attend a function, mixer, seminar or party. Neither planned nor Free Fall Networking is better than the other. They are just different. Know the difference; learn to understand the dynamics of both to be an expert in networking. Futurists are telling us that relationships will be the most important factor in doing business. The author of Endless Referrals, Bob Burg tells us that “People will do business with those people they know and trust!” Investing in relationships Quite a few years back, I had an unusual situation occur. I was working as a loan officer for a bank. I had to make a judgment call very quickly. I believe I did the right thing. The situation involved a great referral source, a builder, Larry, who had been my client for years. We had a comfortable, lengthy business relationship. He knew he could count on me to get the job done. We made a deal a few years back never to ask the other person to jump through burning hoops unless absolutely necessary. When asked, then you knew it was serious and immediate action would be taken on both sides. We discussed situations rationally, without unreasonable expectations of one another. We had built a relationship on trust, loyalty and mutual respect. He called me one morning and was interested in refinancing his own home loan. He asked me, “What could I do to help?” He called during the worst possible week! This was during the 1993 refinance craze when banks, from time to time, would raise their rates just high enough to slow down the volume giving them a chance to catch up and breathe. The bank I represented had done just that, raised its rates just slightly over current market rates. I knew that we were higher than others at this time and there wasn’t anything I could do. So it was my dilemma! I knew my rates were not the best, competitive maybe, but not the best! This was my great business associate and referral source. If I quoted Larry my rates and he made a few phone calls, he could think I was taking advantage of our relationship, especially after all the business he had referred to me. He would have probably laughed and said, “What are your real rates?” I made a quick decision. I knew which lender had the best rates in town. It was also the lender who was kicking my butt! I also knew on a normal daily basis they weren’t the lowest and they didn’t have the niche products that I had. He didn’t need a niche product. All he wanted was the best rate. He was looking to me to give him the best rate. So I did! I took a risk. I said to him, “I can tell you where to go today. They have the best rate not only in town, but also in three counties. I cannot come close to their rate. Please, this is between you and me. I’m telling you this for your personal business. Next week, my rates will be down again, but not today. I want you to be happy as my business partner, so I am sending you to my competition.” I was playing Miracle on 34th Street, Macy’s referring Gimbals … Gimbals referring Macys. I referred him to another lender. Keep the relationship, lose the transaction I lost the transaction, but kept the relationship! In fact, I even solidified our relationship. I lost the transaction, but I didn’t lose my friend as a colleague in the process. I strengthened his trust in our relationship and in me. I looked like a “hero” instead of a “loser!” If I had tried to sell him on a bogus interest rate, I would have risked our entire relationship, one of mutual trust and respect. I also kept control of where I sent him. I knew they couldn’t fill my shoes for the future needs of his customers. What if he’d been dissatisfied with my assistance and went in search of another lender on his own. Who then might he have stumbled upon, a potential new source for his customers. I didn’t want that to happen. He was happy and respected my candor because in his time of need, I came through. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have the best interest rate. What mattered was that I was the person who found the lender who did give him the best interest rate. What if I had said to him, “I expect you to take the rate and program I am offering. I know it’s slightly higher than most, but we have a relationship so you have to work with me. You have to do your deal at the higher rate because it’s me. No other reason, I cannot beat the rate. I have the same service, but you have to take this rate because of our relationship.” How long do you think that our relationship would have lasted? I would have lost not only the relationship, but his respect as well. I opted to lose the transaction but keep the relationship. The very next week, he referred me to one of his construction clients, as always, no reservation or hesitation on his part. When you find yourself in a similar situation, think twice before you make a sales pitch to someone with whom you have a relationship. Always put the relationship before the transaction and commission! What lies ahead There will be changes in the future that will affect the way business is conducted. Technology will appear as a stronger force in sales, marketing and customer service. It is convenient, relatively easy to set-up and cost effective. LinkedIn, Facebook, Plaxo and Twitter are key marketing components, as well as a fabulous way to stay in touch with possible referral sources. By build the relationship first, referrals will come later. The world is evolving and we are history in the making. We may not see it happening, but we are creating history. We all need to take inventory regarding how we expect to grow our business in this “new marketplace.” Laura Lynn Burke has been selected from a nationwide search to be featured in Stepping Stones to Success, a highly successful book series. The book features best-selling authors Deepak Chopra (The Power of Purpose), Jack Canfield (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Dr. Denis Waitley (featured in The Secret) and Laura Lynn Burke (Networkolog) who are joined by other well-known authors each offering time-tested strategies for success in frank and intimate interviews. Laura is also the CEO and founder of Footprints International d/b/a The Mortgage Institute, a training and consulting company designed with you in mind. For more information, call (708) 692-6199.
Published
Jan 21, 2010
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