In a busy coffee shop, just as in the world of business networking, what we ask for determines what we get. Imagine you’re ordering coffees for your friends. Some are very specific about their preferences—Flat white, no sugar, or americano with two sugars —while others give you free rein with “oh just anything will do.” It’s then no surprise when those who gave a specific order enjoy a great coffee to their liking.  But those with vague requests were disappointed when a drink arrived that they don’t like.

This is scarily similar to networking events. Clarity in our asks, can mean the difference between receiving referrals to our ideal clients or walking away with little more than a shake of a head in confusion.

The Power of Precision

When attendees articulate specific needs or even better describe their dream client at events, they effectively set themselves up for success. This laser focus helps people to filter all their contacts from “anyone”, right down to the exact person to introduce you to.

That alternative, turning up with a vague request for an introduction to “anyone”, typically leads to wasted networking events— just like receiving an unwanted espresso shot when craving a cappuccino.

Reticular Activating System: Their Referral Radar

Our brain’s reticular activating system (RAS) plays a crucial role here. It helps us focus on the key information in a sea of noise and overwhelm, by acting as our internal referral radar. By being explicit about our needs — essentially programming our networking connections RAS — we heighten its ability to spot opportunities that fall in line with our ideal clients.

You have a responsibility to make it easy for people to help you, if you asked people to spot blue BMW’s, all of a sudden people see them everywhere. Help people to help you by getting laser focused on the referral you’d like today.

Key Takeaways & Actionable Steps

To avoid misaligned expectations and maximise productive outcomes from professional gatherings:

  • Be Precise: Clearly articulate your ‘ask.’
  • Program Their RAS: Set clear intentions before each event – help sharpen their internal radar to spot opportunities for you and your business.

Here are some bullet-point actions to help guide you through:

Things To Do:

  • Specify Your Requests: Before attending any networking event write down specifically who it is that you want to connect with.
  • Listen Actively: Help your connections to be more specific. With this in mind you’ll then be able to help them with introductions to their ideal referrals. 
  • Follow Up: If you see that someone has had that lightbulb moment, call them after the event to help them make the introduction.

Things Not To Do:

  • Avoid Vague Language: Statements like “I’m looking for anyone” significantly reduce the chance of a referral. Instead share a detailed description of an ideal connection to help others understand how they can help you.
  • Don’t Skip Preparation Work before the event, thinking ahead carefully crafting pitch intros greatly enhances effectiveness overall experience
  • Resist The Urge To Blend In, break the flow and use pattern interrupt to confidently share the specific ask that will set you apart from the crowd.

In networking, asking for anyone is asking for no-one. When you’re getting your brew before the event, run through your ask to improve your results every time.

If you can lock in this habit and master the art of specificity then you’re on the way to transforming your networking results.