The Boomerang Effect

The Boomerang Effectstring(20) "The Boomerang Effect"

The foundation of building a successful word-of-mouth-based business involves giving referrals to others as well as connecting people so that they may increase their business.

If you know how to give good business referrals to others, and consistently make beneficial introductions to connect people to each other, you will enjoy the Boomerang Effect. The Boomerang Effect is having a referral that you gave out to someone else come back to you in the form of new business.

In the early years of BNI®  I received a referral from someone in Los Angeles to whom I had sent business in the past. That referral became my client and they referred three more people from all over the U.S. who did business with me, too. That particular boomerang kept coming back again and again.

Actively Listen for Good Referrals

To consistently give good business referrals to others you must become a good listener. Throughout your day, actively listen for people to express a need that is represented by someone in your personal network of contacts. Remember, a good networker has two ears and one mouth, and uses them proportionately.

Listen to what people have to say, especially when they share their frustration about a problem that needs solved. “My computer is SO slow!” “I need more vehicles for the company fleet.”  “Our office printer just quit working.” “We’re waiting for the insurance company to return my call – from 2 days ago!” Then refer them to a trusted member of your networking group who can provide the solution to their needs.

A Referral Is an Opportunity

Keep in mind that a referral is not a guaranteed sale. When you give a referral to your networking partner, it is an opportunity for them to talk with someone who is in the market to buy or use a particular product or service. You can view referrals as either hot, warm, or tepid.

Hot Referral – this is someone actively looking for a service or product right now who is personally introduced by you to your referral partner. You told the prospect about your business friend, how good they are at what they do, and shared your confidence about their professional ability to help them with their needs. They are ready to set an appointment or have a call as soon as possible.

Warm Referral – this is someone who has been shopping around and is willing to talk with another provider of that product or service. You have taken the time to give them some background information about your referral partner and perhaps told them a testimonial about someone in a similar situation that they previously helped. You offered to make an introduction and asked when they want your business friend to contact them.

Tepid Referral – this is someone who expresses an interest or wants to talk to someone in a certain profession, however they are not in the market to proceed at this moment. You told them you know a professional who will be glad to answer their questions and provide information to help them. You gave them your business contact’s name and phone number and asked if they would like to receive a call from them.

Sometimes a referral that you give to someone else boomerangs as new business for you. It may take days, weeks or even months to return to you, and it may be from someone else rather than coming directly from the person you gave the
original referral to. However, that IS the philosophy of Givers Gain® and it is based on the age-old concept of “what goes around comes around”.

Have you experienced the Boomerang Effect in your business? I invite you to share in the comments below.

How to Get Your Dream Referralstring(30) "How to Get Your Dream Referral"

An effective way to grow your business is with referral marketing. A referral is the opportunity to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product or service and has been told about you by a mutual friend or associate. Business referrals made with a warm introduction are much more effective than an unsolicited cold call to a prospect.

Referrals in business are good; Dream Referrals are great! What IS a Dream Referral? A Dream Referral is one of those clients who will make a significant impact on your revenues for the year. It’s that wonderful customer that makes your smile, AND your company’s profits, bigger. However, before you can get your Dream Referral, you have to know who or what it is.

First – Identify Your Dream Referral

Have you ever said, “I want to meet anyone who needs my services.”? If you answered yes, has your generic request for a new contact ever resulted in a referral? Probably not. That type of ‘anyone’ request is much too vague.

One of the skills of networking is to remember that Specific is Terrific.
Describe your Dream Referral in detail:

  • Are they a person or a company?
  • What is their name or their title?
  • Where are they located?
  • What do they look like?
  • What is the exact type of business or profession that they are in?
  • How can you help them, what problem do they have?
  • Which of your products or services do they need?
  • What benefit will they receive from each of your products or services?

Next – Tell Others About Your Dream Referral

Now that you have identified exactly who and what you are looking for, teach your network what your Dream Referral looks like.

When referral marketing, if you use a catch phrase that is too broad and generic it will limit the effectiveness of the results that you get. Instead, be very descriptive as you talk to your networking partners, so descriptive that it is like that person is in the room with you. The more details you provide, the greater the likelihood that your referral partners will recognize that person when they come across them outside of the business networking meeting!

To increase and grow business through referrals, it is important that YOU know your own personal Dream Referral. Then you can educate your network on how to help you find it. If you do not know precisely who that ideal client is, your networking partners are unable to go out looking for them and connect you to them.

I would love to hear about YOUR Dream Referral in the comments below.

Symptoms of a Good Referralstring(27) "Symptoms of a Good Referral"

As a professional, do you want to get more referrals? Of course, everyone says YES. Here is a technique that you can use now that will directly lead to generating more word-of-mouth business for you.

Educate people on the “symptoms” of a good referral so when they’re out in the field and with other people, they will immediately know what to look for in a potential ideal client for you.

Identify the Problem to Get Relief

Think about it this way. If someone went to a medical professional and told them that they had a headache, sore throat, and were sneezing all the time, the doctor would probably ask if they spent a lot of time outdoors. If so, they might prescribe an anti-allergen treatment because, based on the symptoms, it sounds like the patient has seasonal allergies.

Notice that the description of the problem, the symptoms, came first and then came the plan for relief.

What if that could happen in your business?

Make it “Top of Mind”

Callan Rush, author of Wealth Through Workshops, refers to the “top-of-mind” problems of your prospective clients. Ask yourself: What is the greatest challenge that my customers face on a regular basis? What need does my target market have that my products or services can fill?

When you identify those problems, you can effectively share them when you are talking to others and include them in your marketing materials.

Share the Trigger Points

Think about the trigger points, an event or scenario, that happen in someone’s life which triggers that person to have a new need. For example, instead of a realtor saying, “If you know someone looking to buy or sell a home, let me know”, they can be more specific with the circumstances surrounding the target market before a future home buyer needs a real estate agent.

If first-time home buyers are the target market, the realtor can educate their network on some potential triggers leading up to the transaction of buying a house.

These triggers may include:

  • People who are recently engaged or getting married and need a place to live.
  • Couples who are expecting, or just had, a new baby and their place is too small.
  • Parents of college-age children who have left home, and their place is now too big.
    Or they want to buy a house for the college student rather than paying rent.

These are all symptoms of a good referral because they are related to activities that usually result in buying or selling a home. Coach your referral partners on how to spot the symptoms associated with people who need your produce or service as opposed to just saying “If you run into someone looking for a ____(fill in your industry), that would be a great referral.”

When you educate the people in your network about the specific symptoms or conditions that your business can solve, it becomes easier for them to give referrals to you.

I’d love to hear your comments about how you use this technique in your business.

building deep referral relationships

Get More Out of Networking by Building Deep Referral Relationshipsstring(66) "Get More Out of Networking by Building Deep Referral Relationships"

To become successful at networking, you need to be building deep referral relationships. Many people rely on referrals from others as a primary source of business. However, not everyone who relies on referrals is successful.

Many people have surface-level referral relationships.  They know just enough about a referral source’s business to get by. They probably could not tell you anything else about the business than you can read on their business card. They have not built enough social capital with their referral relationships to count on them when they need something.

Building deep referral relationships is almost completely dependent upon the social capital you have built with someone. Social capital is like financial capital. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You have to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal.

Building Social Capital Is the Groundwork for Future Payoff

In this video, I discuss why Building Social Capital is one of the best investments you can make to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network.

 

Do you have a personal story about social capital similar to the one I shared in this video about Alex? Please share your story in the comments below about how you have built great social capital with someone who is now just itching to help you in any way they can.

Are You Building Deep Referral Relationships?

Before you ask for a referral, make sure you have built a deep referral relationship first by knowing the following points about that person:

  • You believe they are an expert at what they do.
  • You trust them to do a great job and take great care of your referred prospects.
  • You have known each other for at least one year.
  • You understand at least three major products or services within their business and feel comfortable explaining them to others.
  • You know the names of their family members and have met them personally.
  • You have both asked each other how you can help grow your respective businesses.
  • You know at least five of their goals for the year, including personal and business goals.
  • You could call them at 9 p.m. if you needed anything.
  • You would not feel awkward asking them for help with either a personal or business challenge.
  • You enjoy the time you spend together.
  • You have regular appointments scheduled, both business and personal.
  • You enjoy seeing them achieve further success.
  • They are “top of mind” regularly.
  • You have open, honest talks about how you can help each other further.

Referral Relationships Reality Review:

  1. What conclusions do you have about the depth of your current referral relationships?
  2. Are your relationships more or less in line with these points?
  3. What points can you improve upon to deepen your relationships?

Over the years, people have asked me to promote something for them.  It happens to me almost daily on LinkedIn. Now, I don’t want to pick on LinkedIn.  It can happen on any social media platform. The majority of those who contact me have never actually met me or had a previous conversation with me. They never invested in the relationship, yet they wanted a withdrawal from it. Please stop and do not pitch to me (or anyone) on LinkedIn.

You may be shocked at the level of personal knowledge required for building deep referral relationships. I completely disagree if you believe that referrals should be all about business. Referrals are personal. It takes a lot to develop this type of relationship. When you give a referral, you give a little of your reputation away. You need to know the person that is going to affect your reputation but those who do will certainly succeed at building a business from referrals.

The PRICE System

The PRICE System For Your Referralsstring(35) "The PRICE System For Your Referrals"

The PRICE system is a commonly known management tool for tracking performance in a business context.  People who want to track, analyze, and manage their performance or the performance of others can use this system as a tool for accomplishing that. Many members of BNI have asked me about tracking the referrals they receive.  The PRICE system can be an excellent tool for you to manage and assess your referrals in BNI.  Furthermore, the system can be applied to individual members or the progress of an entire chapter, whichever you prefer.

The PRICE System is an acronym for

Pinpoint, Record, Involve, Coach, and Evaluate.

Pinpoint – involves determining the general theme(s) of the goals and objectives that you or your chapter may have.  It may be as simple as the total referrals you wish to receive.  It can, however, be more specific by breaking it down into inside or outside referrals (referrals from members or from people that members refer).  You can even decide to track referrals by the actual value of the referral.

Record – involves taking your goals and putting them in measurable and observable terms.  Measurable terms include things such as quantity, quality, or time frame.  This part of the process involves tracking your goals in writing.  It requires that you take the actual quantity or value of the goals you have established over a time period that you determine (we recommend one year) and record them as they occur.

Involve – requires clear communication and providing feedback to the other members of your chapter.  Share your PRICE goals or develop chapter PRICE goals that can be distributed and discussed with the chapter.  Discuss progress over time and make sure to review and discuss your PRICE goals regularly.

Coach – is one of the most important parts of a successful PRICE system.  Share your PRICE goals with your BNI chapter members.  Ask for their feedback.  Use your BNI chapter’s “members only group page” on Facebook to get feedback on your program. Ask the Leadership Team of your chapter for assistance, seek out a mentor from your chapter to help you (or volunteer to mentor someone else).

Evaluate – involves summarizing the data after a year to take a look at your progress.  Make sure to recognize your successes and determine future strategies to improve performance.

In business, you achieve what you measure. The Networking Scorecard™ App provides you with a mobile solution to measuring your networking efforts. The best management tool in the world is the one that is used regularly.  There is no magic to setting and tracking performance.  It is accomplished with simple but specific methods that are used consistently.  Success is the sum of small efforts that are repeated day in and day out.  Tracking your success is done the same way.

hunting

Networking is more about farming than it is about huntingstring(57) "Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting"

Over the years, I have observed that most business professionals go about networking the way our cave-dwelling ancestors went about hunting for food. If I could impart one piece of wisdom regarding networking and getting more referrals, it would be this: Networking is about farming for new contacts, not hunting them.

Premature Solicitation

Has a complete stranger ever solicited you for a referral or business? I call this “premature solicitation.” I have been its victim many times. Years ago, I was speaking at a networking event, and before my presentation, an unknown person approached me and said, “Hi, it is a real pleasure to meet you. I understand you know Richard Branson. I offer specialized marketing services and I am sure his Virgin enterprises could benefit from what I provide. Could you please introduce me to him so that I can show him how this would assist his companies?”

I replied with the following response: “Hi, I’m Ivan Misner. I am sorry. I do not think we have met before. What was your name again?” That surprised the man enough to make him realize his solicitation might have been a bit premature. I continued to explain to him. “I regularly refer people to my contacts, but only after I’ve established a strong, long-term relationship with the service provider”. He thanked me and moved on to his next victim.

Over the years, many people have shared with me their frustrations about strangers who pounce on them at networking meetings and ask for business. However, occasionally someone will share with me that they approve of using “premature solicitation”. Here is one example that I received:

Hunting Networkers

“I don’t happen to believe that you need a relationship with the person you are asking first. What you must have is a compelling story or product/service that would genuinely benefit the referral. The fact that you had not cultivated a relationship with the person has become irrelevant because, more importantly, you had been in a position to help [your contact] benefit from the introduction. If it’s of genuine benefit to the person being referred, I don’t see the problem. Who am I to deny my contacts something good?”

The relationship is “irrelevant”, according to this person. It does not matter if I actually know or trust someone. As long as the person has a worthy product, I should not “deny my contacts something good.”  I absolutely disagree, and I would ask anyone interested in business networking to keep the following in mind:

  • Networking is not about hunting.
  • Networking is about farming.
  • It’s about cultivating relationships.
  • Do not be guilty of premature solicitation.

Farming Networkers

This kind of networker is also meeting people. However, they build relationships first, instead of just adding names to a contact list. They are building referral sources to people that were referred to them by their strategic alliances. Proper networking is about taking the time to cultivate relationships. Use networking opportunities to first meet people, Then schedule additional times to connect and build trust with them. Do not ask someone for a business referral until you feel confident that the person knows and trusts you.

Networking is indeed like farming. Commit to mastering what it takes to efficiently and effectively harness the potential in your “relationship crops” and you will reap a bountiful harvest of mutually satisfying relationships and sustainable growth in your business.

Leads Referrals

Leads are not Referralsstring(23) "Leads are not Referrals"

So, what is the difference between referrals and leads? When I attended networking groups many years ago, they encouraged us to pass leads among us. However, in BNI, we believe in the power of referrals. These two words may sound alike as they both seek out new clients for the person you are referring to. However, there is more than semantics in the difference between leads and referrals. It is important to understand those differences so that we give and receive only qualified referrals, rather than leads.

Leads

A lead is a contact that may come from any number of sources. This contact is generally not expecting your call. If a Realtor gives an insurance agent their new home buyers’ contact list, they would be considered leads. Unfortunately, the prospects are not expecting a call from the insurance agent. Therefore, it is not much better than a cold-call. The agent will most likely receive a cold response from the phonecall.

Referrals

A referral is the opportunity to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product or service and who has been told about you by a mutual friend or associate. In other words, they know who you are and what you do when you contact them. It is stronger than just a “lead”. The prospect has talked to your mutual acquaintance and is generally expecting the call. Hence, they are “referred”.

A common misconception about the difference between leads and referrals is that a referral is guaranteed business. This is not the case – as always, your business is your responsibility. Once a referral source has given you a contact name, it is up to you to do the rest. A qualified referral is an open door to put your best foot forward. A referral is better than a lead. You can use the name of the referral source to open the door.

Qualified Referrals

Are you passing qualified referrals to your networking partners based upon these three criteria?

  • When someone expresses that they may be interested in a product or service, have a conversation with them to determine if their needs fit the services offered by the person or organization you have in mind.
  • If the needs do fit, share with the potential referral that you know someone who may be a fit to help them and explain how you know your referral partner.
  • If the potential referral appears receptive to this connection, ask if you can share their contact information with the person who can provide the product or service.

Qualified referrals have been previously vetted by the person giving the referral. There is reason to believe the product or service is desired by the potential customer. The effectiveness of your referral network in providing you with quality referrals depends on the amount of work you do to develop the sources in your network.  A referral is almost always better than a lead. But don’t forget that there are many levels of a referral which depends on the development of the relationships that you nurture.

Different Levels of Referrals

The levels of referrals vary in quality according to how much involvement your referral source has invested in preparing the referral for you. The more time and effort your referral source puts into qualifying, educating, and encouraging the prospect before you become involved, the higher the quality the referral should be. Conversely, if your referral source only passes a prospect’s name to you, most of the work of developing that prospect into a customer falls on you, and the likelihood of turning that prospect into a customer diminishes significantly.

The best referrals you can give are the referrals where the person is expecting their call. Let them know that this person that you are referring to them is going to be giving them a call. Then when the potential client does call the business you are referring to, they will get a warm reception. That sure beats the heck out of cold calling any day of the week.

Ruin Reputations

Giving Referrals Can Ruin Reputationsstring(37) "Giving Referrals Can Ruin Reputations"

Referral marketing is the most effective form of advertising. However, many approach referral marketing with an “Old Faithful” attitude. All they have to do is just show up weekly to their networking events and referral business to them will simply erupt regularly like this geyser. What they do not realize is that once their trust in you evaporates, so does the water. In referral marketing, your trust and your reputation are on the line all the time.  Therefore, you need to do what you say you are going to do. You need to be professional and do what you can to not ruin reputations with others.

When you give a referral, you give away a little bit of your reputation.

While giving a good referral will enhance your relationship, a bad referral will hurt it. This is extremely important when referring someone to your client or customer. If the person you referred does a poor job, your relationship with your client will suffer. You may even lose that customer due to the lack of trust they now have in you for giving them that bad referral. Now the geyser is dry.

Therefore, the biggest risk in referral marketing is not the person you are referring to someone. The biggest risks are the referral giver’s reputation and the risk to their business relationships with others. Get to know the people you are referring to others. Find out as much as you can about the services they offer. Plus, make sure they have integrity. If you do not take the time for this, your reputation is at risk. Finally, never give good referrals to people who do not want them or cannot handle them with the same integrity and professionalism you use with your clients. Do not be this guy. You do not want to refer someone to your client, and your client is expecting a geyser. However, the only result your client experiences is a dripping faucet in the middle of the night instead.

Everyone can Ruin Reputations

However, I am not saying that you accept 100% of the blame and responsibility for the bad referral. Referral marketing is more than just you. Everyone is involved in a threeway referral relationship. The person being referred to your client can do himself permanent damage by performing poorly or dishonestly. He agreed to a service contract or sales transaction with your client. What expectations has your client had in the past when working with you? You can share these same client expectations you experienced with the person you are referring to your client.

Even your client has some responsibility for the bad referral. Your client needs to clearly explain to you the exact service, product, or assistance they are looking to you to help them to find the right person to refer to them. Therefore, their expectation should be reasonable. If they are looking for a “small fountain” when discussing the possible referral with you, they should not be expecting a “large geyser” later on when working with the referral. However, they should also not be receiving a “little drip” either. Especially if they prepaid for the “fountain”.

Even Old Faithful is not as faithful as it used to be.

Tourists visit Yellowstone National Park in (mostly) Wyoming, USA every year to see the Old Faithful Geyser for its frequent and somewhat predictable eruptions. Rumors claimed that the eruptions occur hourly. People speak of the average time between eruptions. This is misleading and these rumors could ruin reputations with the tourists expecting to view the geyser based upon an exact schedule of when the geyser will erupt next. The mathematical average between eruptions of Old Faithful is currently 74 minutes, but it doesn’t like to act average! Intervals can range from 60-110 minutes. The world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful in Yellowstone, currently erupts around 20 times a day. These eruptions are predicted with a 90 percent confidence rate, within a 10-minute variation. I do love a good statistical report to end a story.

Master the Art of Networking

Master the Art of Networkingstring(28) "Master the Art of Networking"

Networking is more than just shaking hands and passing out business cards, it is about building your “social capital.” Networking is more about “farming” than it is about “hunting.” It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. It’s about realizing the capital that comes from building social relationships. Master the art of networking with these ten tips:

1. Follow up on referrals.

If you present an opportunity, whether it is a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up successfully, it is no secret that you will eventually stop wasting your time sending referrals to this person.

2. Have a positive attitude.

A negative attitude makes people dislike being around you and drives away referrals. However, a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends, family, and associates to them.

4. Remain trustworthy.

When you refer one person to another, you are putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact or valuable information to someone who cannot be trusted to handle it well.

5. Practice good listening skills.

Our success as networkers depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. Communicate well, listen, and learn.

6. Always network.

Master networkers are never off duty. Networking is so natural to them that they can be found networking in the grocery store line, online, and while working from home. After this “Great Pause”, we will soon be able to network again at chamber mixers and networking meetings.

7. Thank people.

Gratitude is sorely lacking in today’s business world. Expressing gratitude to business associates and clients is just another building block in the cultivation of relationships that will lead to increased referrals. People like to refer others to business professionals that go above and beyond. Thanking others at every opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd.

8. Help others.

Master networkers keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people’s interests whenever they can. Helping others can be done in a variety of ways, from literally showing up to help with an office move to clipping a helpful and interesting article and mailing it to an associate or client.

9. Be sincere.

If you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it. Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn. One of the best ways to develop this trait is to give your undivided attention to the people you are networking with.

10. Work the art of networking.

Master networkers do not let any opportunity to work their networks pass them by. They manage their contacts, organize their e-mail address files, and carry their referral partners’ business cards as well as their own. They set up appointments to get better acquainted with new contacts so that they can learn as much about them as possible so that they can truly become part of each other’s networks.

Do you see the trend with these ten points? They all tie into long-term relationship building. People who take the time to build their social capital are the ones who will have new business referred to them over and over. The key is to build mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed to master the art of networking.

Givers

Separating the Givers From the Takersstring(37) "Separating the Givers From the Takers"

The philosophy of Givers Gain® is about giving to other people first. Within this context, the giver cannot and should not expect an immediate return on their investment based on another’s gain. What they should focus on is that given enough effort and time, their generosity will be returned by and through their network of contacts, friends, and colleagues — many times over and in many different ways.

I incorporated the philosophy of Givers Gain into BNI almost 35 years ago, because I saw that many networking groups were far too mercenary in their approach. They used networking as a face-to-face cold-calling opportunity. I believed then, and I know now, that networking is all about relationship-building, and that one of the best ways to build a relationship is to help others first.  Through giving, you can gain in so many ways. I also recognize that there are takers in the world. There are people who either don’t understand the power of Givers Gain or who don’t really care or believe in the concept. I call these two categories of people “can’t do’s” and “won’t do’s.

The “Can’t do’s” and “Won’t do’s.

The can’t do’s do not know how to do something or do not understand why it’s important to do something. For these people, I’ve learned that with the right coaching, they may become willing to make that transition.

Then there are the people who are “won’t do’s.” They just want what serves them best and have no true intention of giving. It’s important to recognize them as soon as possible because they will abuse the relationship, not nurture it.

Life requires discernment. Sometimes, that is about evaluating the people in your network and whether they are willing to contribute to your relationship. Givers Gain does not mean you should be a “taker’s victim.” The world is full of givers and takers. Apply contextual insight and use appropriate judgment to give freely to the people who value the giving approach in life. Use discernment for the ones who do not.

Givers Gain®

I know a man who gave a half a dozen referrals to someone in his networking group over 18 months, but the individual never reciprocated. The man came to me seeking advice. I coached him to do the following…

Invite the person out for a one-to-one meeting, and come prepared to the meeting with as much detail as possible about the six referrals you gave. Start with the oldest and ask the following questions: How did it work out? Did it turn into business profit? If so, was it as much as you had hoped? Did the relationship work out well? Use open-ended questions to determine how well that referral worked out for the individual. After a few minutes, do the same for the next one, and then the next one, and so on, until you discuss all of the referrals you’ve given that individual.

What is a good referral?

Here is where your discernment needs to be fine-tuned. What if all those referrals you gave the individual did not work out as you thought? Then you need to ask the person how you could give better referrals in the future. However, if any of those referrals turned out to be good and possibly resulted in business, take a different tack. Tell the person that you are really glad the referrals you gave worked out well. Then pause a moment and say, “Since some of them worked out for you, I’d really appreciate it if you could do something similar for me. Maybe we could talk a little bit about how I can help you do that.”

From there, talk to the person about what a good referral is for you, how they can refer people to you, and even dive deeper into specific clients they may have that may be a good referral for you.

After the person I coached had his meeting, he came back to me and said he was so glad he followed my advice, rather than just end the relationship. He told me the individual “apologized profusely and then acknowledged this needed to be a two-way relationship. We spoke at length about how he could reciprocate, and he has already done so. The referral he just gave me turned into a big client!”

Reciprocal Relationships

Sometimes people are so busy in life they are just not thinking about the importance of having a reciprocal relationship. Sometimes they don’t know how, and sometimes they don’t care.  All three require discernment, and that discernment requires a different response strategy. Your giving energy should be focused on people who are aligned with the need for reciprocity. They may or may not be able to give back to you directly, but observe their behavior before you continue to blindly evolve into a giving victim.

The more energy you have for giving, the more you are able to give. Giving more where you have strong relationships makes you able to practice this philosophy in a healthy way. Givers Gain® is about taking off your bib and putting on an apron. It’s about building a relationship by helping others first.

Secrets to Getting Referrals

Secrets to Getting Referralsstring(28) "Secrets to Getting Referrals"

Networking groups can definitely help businesses generate referrals.  When attending referral-related networking groups, remember that your efforts should not focus on trying to “close a sale. If you want to get business from the fellow members of your networking group, educate these people about some of the specifics of your business and what to look for in order to refer you effectively. Here are some secrets to getting referrals to consider for educating people in your networking groups:

Train your Sales Force

Do not generalize

I have heard hundreds of thousands of introductions at business networking events in my 20 years of running a business referral organization. Many people, when outlining what type of referrals they want, use the words “anyone,” “someone” or “everyone.” I don’t recommend it. It is also important to remember that if you are in a group that meets weekly, your presentation should focus on something different each time in order to continue the educational process.

Bring support materials

Have something visual for members to view or leave with. Your chances of staying in their minds long after the day’s meeting are increased. A flier about a product sale or a newsletter from your company are good items to bring. You might also bring samples of an item you carry in your store or place of business.

Break your business down into keywords

When introducing yourself, break your business down into keywords. Each week you focus on simply one aspect of your business. In other words, break your business down into very small pieces. What are the words others will use as search terms about your industry? These are your keywords. You may be tempted to use broad approach-listing all the areas your business covers. Instead, consider that your fellow networkers will learn more about you if you explain one aspect of your business weekly at each meeting.

If you want to get referrals from your networking efforts, remember to train your sales force and provide them the support material they will need to find others searching for you based on your keywords. Chances are, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your results.

Social Capital

Investing in Your Social Capitalstring(32) "Investing in Your Social Capital"

I’m sure all entrepreneurs have heard of financial capital, but many may not have heard of social capital. Social capital is, in fact, very similar to its monetary sibling. It, too, is accumulated by an individual or a business and used, or is available for use, in the production of wealth. Put more simply, it’s the accumulation of resources developed through personal and professional networks. These resources include ideas, knowledge, information, opportunities, contacts and, of course, referrals. Social capital is built by design, not chance.

Social capital is acquired through networking because successful networking is all about building and maintaining solid, professional relationships. The trouble is we don’t have the natural community-like business relationships that existed before. Many business owners hardly know their own neighbors, let alone the local businesspeople in town. Therefore, networking is critical to an individual’s success in business.

Effectively developing your social capital can be a daunting task. However, doing so within a structured, organized networking framework will leverage your efforts and help you begin building your balance of capital to positively impact your bottom line. Here are some keys to creating social capital that will help you form the foundation of your business endeavors:

Plan your word-of-mouth

I’ve learned a great deal about planning and starting new businesses. Many years ago, it used to surprise me that 50 percent of all businesses fail after only three years in operation. However, now that I know how little planning many businesses do, I’m surprised that only 50 percent fail. If you want to be successful in business, it’s critical that you plan your work and work your plan. Furthermore, part of your plan should involve your strategy for building your business through word-of-mouth.

Give referrals

Every day, week and month, entrepreneurs strive to build their businesses through referrals. Part of this process is to build a team of people whom we recommend and refer to. This is part of the process of building your social capital.

If you’re not already a member of a strong contact network, find a chapter near you and get started. There’s no better way to systematically develop a solid base for building social capital than in an organization dedicated to helping you succeed in this endeavor.

Show professionalism at all times

Being dependable, delivering a product on time, meeting appointments consistently and treating others with courtesy will give you a professional reputation. This will cause you to be remembered by those you wish to have become a contributor to your social capital.

It’s a dog-eat-dog climate in the business world today. Competition is fierce, and some entrepreneurs employ down-and-dirty tactics. Studies have shown that one of the most important factors in doing business by referral is someone’s “professionalism.” By remaining professional at all times, you’ll rise to the top of the barrel and succeed where others will fail.

As you invest your time in developing your social capital, know that you are, in fact, increasing your bottom line. Strive to make the most effective use of this investment. Do everything possible to thoroughly enhance the relationships you develop in the coming year because social capital definitely leads to improved financial capital.

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