Remember To Recon

 
Remember To Recon

If there is one activity which is the most effective yet the least understood, it is the practice of ‘Recon Meetings.

For those who don’t know, A Recon Meeting is when two members meet to gain a deeper knowledge of each other’s business, by visiting each other outside the normal meeting time. This deeper knowledge allows them to be more able to spot referrals and opportunities. A Recon takes around 45 minutes, but can be longer, but should never be shorter.

Like all skills, the more you do it, the better you become, so by conducting Recon Meetings on a regular basis, you get better at it and become more in tune as a referral finder. Just as you allocate time to other activities in your business day, so allocate time to conduct Recon Meetings. You must treat it as an essential part of your work week and not one you are prepared to cancel or move easily.

One of the easiest times to allocate to Recons is immediately following your regular meeting. If you allocate one hour following the meeting, you will either be able to do it at the venue (if space and venue allow) or follow the member to their, or yours. This makes booking Recons easy as you know that you are going to go to be at your meeting, so extending the allocated time is simple to do.

However you decide to do it, try to do two Recons per week. One where someone comes to learn about you and one where you visit someone else.

What does ‘doing a Recon involve?

The basic concept of the Recon is that it allows you to gain more knowledge about your fellow members, a better understanding of their motivation for being in business, and the types of referral they are looking to receive. To give you an idea of what happens, the following is a meeting flow guide you can use to develop your Recon routine


Meeting Flow

Meeting location
The location of your dance is important. If you have offices with a meeting room and facilities to host visitors that is great. If you do not, then choose a meeting place that will allow you to talk openly about things. A crowded coffee shop is often chosen but is not necessarily the place where you might feel comfortable talking about some of the more commercially sensitive parts of your business.

Factory tour
Personally, I find it fascinating looking at factories, offices and building sites. It is really interesting learning about how work is conducted in other businesses. What it also does is give me a real insight into the company and how (and why)they are in business. By giving people a factory tour, you are giving them more information than a simple sit down interview ever will. They can see the processes you use if it is a visit to a construction site they can see how you integrate with other professions and it gives a more rounded sense of the whole company.

Sit down discussions
It can be very easy to turn a Recon into a discussion and then a social chat. You need to keep in mind that you are not there for a chat, you are there to find out information that can help you to find referrals for this person. You need to treat the Recon in a business-like way, like a fact finding mission if they were to become a customer of yours. Within this book, there is a structured Recon Sheet to help to keep the flow of a Recon on track.

Types of referrals sought
The last five minutes of a Recon need to be spent explaining the triggers that will allow referrals to be spotted. Triggers are often complaints like, ‘my computer doesn’t work’, ‘my plumber can’t come until a week next Monday’, but they also might be subtle, like people planning to retire or who are expecting babies. Whatever your common triggers are, you need to explain these to the person you are meeting.
End and book
Finally, when you have finished the Recon, you need to thank the person for their time and make an appointment to see them in about two weeks (if you haven’t already done so) to allow them to learn about your business. Recons are a ‘game of two halves’, and a full Recon involves two meetings. If the meeting is the second in the cycle, then why not book a time eight months from now to do it again? After all, in eight months, your businesses will have moved on, and there will be more to learn. I have met with some members of my groups 10 or 12 times over the 15 years I have been actively involved in business networking.
It is also important to understand the different types and levels of referrals they are seeking. These are commonly called Bread & Butter, Cream and Dream.

Bread & Butter

Are just that, they are the day to day work their company needs. These referrals are the ones people can find easily. For example, for my web design business, these would be companies needing advice on using the Internet to help market themselves.

Cream

Are the icing on the cake! They might be slightly bigger projects, or they might be a more profitable type of customer. For me, these include online shops and the creation of online software systems to help customers run their business.

Dream

Are the types of referral that will fundamentally change your business. My dream referral has nothing to do with my business. It involves being introduced to a decision maker in the Movie Industry to whom I can pitch my several ideas for movies.

I have noticed over the years that a member who is actively doing Recons, doing two or more a week, tends to not only find more referrals for their fellow members but also receives more. However, the strangest part of the equation is that the referrals they find are not just for the people they have met with, they see an increase in their ability to find referrals for everyone.
My theory (based on hunch and observation more than scientific fact), is that active Recon activity turns on the part of the brain which is receptive to looking problems. Like having a heightened sense of smell, you sniff out referrals from the slightest hint.

Doing Recons will make you better at finding referrals for everyone; it is the cornerstone of business networking activities success.
As you become more able to find referrals, you can pass more referrals to more people. Your confidence goes up, and your skill level again increases as you are more relaxed and natural about asking for referrals. It is an ever increasing spiral. The effect of your increased activity then seems to increase the number of referrals you receive. I have no scientific explanation for this effect, even after nearly 20 years as an active business networker

Some will come from the people you have met with, but most will come from members you haven’t yet met with for a Recon. As I say, I do not know why this happens, but I have seen it time and again. People who Recon regularly get and give more referrals.