28 Feb Building Your Care Network in A Crisis-Quickly*
*or why you should get to know Elderwerks™ and your local Realtor™
~Maggie Moore, The Widow Coach™
There is a running joke from my East Coast hometown that if the 911 system ever goes down and you need a police officer, get in your car and head to your local Dunkin Donuts™.
Truthfully, the coffee was good and we did see the local emergency services there on occasion, but the magic was really behind the counter. Her name was Mary and she knew EVERYONE in town. She had a rolodex most salespeople would envy and whenever I needed something, I went to get a cup of coffee when Mary was working.
The only person who rivaled her was our local realtor.
When you are in a crisis, you need connections to help you navigate your world, the new world into which you have been thrust. As a newly-minted widow (sarcasm fully intended), I had to find a network of professionals to help me handle the world into which I had been catapulted, while struggling with grief, loss and decisions.
I found out pretty quickly there were two types of “new” people in my world: those who were going to help me because I was widowed and those who were going to try to take advantage of me. Three appliances in my house decided to simultaneously malfunction at the same time after my husband died, not to mention the car issues, organization challenges, work adjustments and other things that accompanied dealing with my husband’s untimely death. I needed a network, and fast.
It doesn’t matter if you are the person in the middle of a crisis, or the caregiver who has been pulled in to manage one: you will need a network of trusted professionals to get through this crisis. Here is how to build one quickly:
- You can tap your existing, trusted network. If there are people in your life you can trust, then they may likely also know other trusted people. My CPA, who I trust implicitly, recommended people to help me with my legal and financial challenges.
- You can work with a vetted partner list from a trusted pro. Yes, I refer clients and friends to Elderwerks™, but I can tell you that I do it because they have helped me over the years and I have sent friends and clients to them. I do it because I know that they manage their network very carefully-and they are there if there is a misunderstanding to fix it.
- You can tap your employer’s resources. Gone are the days when Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) were limited to counseling. Many have evolved to multi-pronged support networks including things like errand or concierge services to assist working professionals. Many services are free or discounted, depending on your plan. You won’t know until you ask what your resources are, so ask!
- You can call an experienced, local realtor. No, you don’t need to be selling a house. A really good realtor, who is established and trusted, understands that their brand is built on making referrals. Andra and Dan Simek are my realtors. Before they were my realtors, they mentored me through a challenging real estate situation and referred professionals to help me address some issues in my house. They taught me that good realtors are connectors, plain and simple. That relationship did lead to referrals for them (eventually), but it started with connections, without expectation of return. Any realtor who won’t help you doesn’t deserve your business-or your referral.
- You can call your insurance agent. Like a realtor, a good, local insurance agent has a network that is built on connections.
- You can ask your friends and colleagues.
- You can “cascade” on your network by asking friends and colleagues for referrals. It is generally true, that “Good people know good people” but I would modify that, “Good, Smart Ethical people know the same.”
Don’t ask for referrals from someone whose ethics you don’t trust who is “just this side of the line.” Likewise, don’t ask for referrals from someone who doesn’t have their “act” together because they are likely not managing their network well.
Managing Your Referral Network:
Checking a referral you receive:
- Validate it: When you get a referral from someone, validate it. It is a dirty little secret that some professionals pay others for referrals. I deal with that in a lighthearted way, by jokingly asking, “Is this your sister’s cousin’s brother, your business network referral, or are they paying you to say that? Because you know I’m depending on you for an honest, trusted referral.”It usually ends in a laugh, but it also helps set expectations that this is important for you-because it is. I do refer people to those in my business networking group, but it is because I would count on them to take care of my mother-and I expect that kind of commitment for any of my referrals-but I also disclose this when referring.
- Respect the referral. If someone is giving you a referral, respect the professional’s time by telling them where the referral came from and asking what you need assistance with. It may be tempting to tell them your life story, but they are likely going to have to take time out of their day to help-and you need to respect that sacrifice.
- If you utilize them, provide feedback to the person who referred them. The person who has given you the referral has put their rep on the line too-and should know if this person is doing what they expect.
- If you love them, tell ten people. Good people should be busy and if they took care of you in a crisis, referring them business helps them to keep doing business the right way. My HVAC guy is super busy-because I tell everyone about him. Likewise, I know I can count on my auto mechanic, Nancy who owns A-Car Tune, because she does the right thing when no one is looking and has for YEARS. My realtor’s assistance without expectation of return led to three sales and (by my count) telling at least sixty people about her over the past year, outside of formal referrals.
When I talk about this, I am often asked why I don’t initially recommend neighborhood apps like Next Door™ or Facebook™ groups. When these social networking groups operate as intended, they are great and can be a source of honest referrals.
The challenge is that people sometimes try to “hijack” the social networks with paid referrals that are not disclosed, or relationships with the business that are not disclosed. I love Next Door™ and communities like them. The issue is they are not a substitute for knowing the person who made the referral.
Your referral is worth business. Sometimes unscrupulous businesses will pay others for “I need a realtor” posts to jump on and recommend them, or have everyone in the “office” jump on the groups and chime in. Trying to build business and earn your trust is not the issue-but disclosing those relationships is.
Once you learn how to start to build a network, it gets easier. You will have a chance to pay it forward to someone else and give them access to your “in the know” network when you need it.
About the author: Maggie Moore, The Widow Coach™ is a Certified Grief Recovery Method Specialist™, Widow, and Coach. She specializes in taking clients from “desolation to transformation” via her Widowed Navigator™ system, teaches a full suite of grief recovery classes, is a sought-after speaker for groups and professional certification, and consults with businesses affected by loss. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org