My dad's a contractor. Which meant that growing up I'd often be on construction job sites with him. Just hanging out when I was young, and then working in various capacities as I grew older.
Sometimes I'd be the fetcher of things. Other times I'd clean up. And sometimes I'd help install windows and build walls (one summer I even helped put in a septic tank, which took months of grueling and often back-breaking work).
After being around so many construction guys for so many years, from electricians to plumbers to painters and more, I learned one thing real quick:
They're a gruff bunch.
Now don't get me wrong. There gruffness was their charm. And, for the most part, they are super fun to hang out with.
But a gruff bunch they are.
And the "gruff bunch" included my dad.
Why do I think my dad is a bit "gruff"? Well lets just suffice it to say, he's not the most patient guy in the world. Plus, he likes things done his way or the highway amigo.
Even still, every time I worked on a job I'd hear the same thing from his clients and subcontractors.
"You'r dad's a great guy"
"I have a lot of respect for him"
"He's one of the good guys in this industry"
And it wasn't just flattery. My dad built his business through his network and referrals. I don't think he's spent a thin dime on advertising in his entire career.
Instead, he relied on referrals. From his past and current clients and his subcontractors.
So how did this gruff, a-hole contractor get tens of millions of dollars of revenue worth of referrals?
Well over the years I came to realize it simmered down to a few things:
1) Be honest
2) Pay people on time (and at a fair wage)
3) Do what you said you would do
4) Do it when you said you would do it
Sounds pretty basic huh?
But that's what I would hear over and over again.
It taught me that networking isn't always about being the coolest, most charming guy. It's about doing the above. Helping other people out, even when it sucks for you.
That's why he got literally millions of dollars worth of referrals in his career. It's why his subcontractors would come over to our house to fix a tiny thing and not charge him. Because of the relationship deposits he had stored up in the proverbial bank.
So thanks for the lesson Dad.
That being said, not everyone should rely on referrals. Most people do have to invest in their marketing.
So, to get me -- a mellow and kind freelancer -- on your team writing emails, head here: