Referrals Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
The PRICE System

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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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.

Three R's of Networking

The Three R’s of Networking

Do you know the Three R’s of Networking? Remember, networking is not selling. Therefore, these three are slightly different from the Three R’s’ of Selling.  Networking, however, can help you develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business. The Three R’s of Networking are Relationships, Reliability, and Referrals.

Relationships

Word-of-mouth is about “relationship marketing.” If you approach the first year of your involvement in a networking group with the sole motivation of getting to know the other members well, you will be far ahead of the game. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that it is not really what you know or who you know; rather, it’s how well you know them that really counts! People do business with people they know and trust.

In order for word-of-mouth marketing to work for you, you first have to build a strong foundation with the people you hope will refer you to others. That takes time, and the amount of time it takes varies from profession to profession. Obviously, some professions are much more sensitive than others to the development of referrals. So find reasons to meet with each person outside the networking meeting. Get to them, and work on having them get to know you better. Make it clear that you value your relationship with each one of them.

Reliability

For the first year or so in a networking group, you are putting in your time. Your referral partners are testing you, checking you out and making sure that you deserve to have their valuable clients and contacts turned over to you. Therefore, you must be credible to the other professionals with whom you hope to network. Bear in mind that you should feel the same way, too. Before you risk your reputation with your clients by referring them to someone who takes less care of them than you would want to be taken, you must be very sure that the person to whom you refer them is reliable! How else are you going to know that unless you use them personally over a period of time?

Referrals

After cultivating relationships and proving yourself to be reliable, you get referrals as the end result. In order for someone to receive, someone else has to give. This holds so true with referrals. I would suggest you perform a reality check to see just how effectively you are referring to the people in your networking group. You might be surprised to find how little you actually refer others, or that you consistently refer the same two or three people.

If you aren’t tracking your referrals (both given and received), it’s time to start tracking them. Look for patterns. I would anticipate that in the months following a month you were particularly active in referring others, you will find that you are receiving more referrals! I have seen the “what goes around, comes around” principle illustrated over and over in BNI, the networking organization I founded years ago.

This is a natural progression and one that can’t really be rushed. I know it can seem frustrating at times when you are anxious to see your bottom line increase quickly from all the referrals you are anticipating receiving, but believe me, if you are patient and apply these techniques, you will see word-of-mouth marketing work for you in a big way.

Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Making Word-of-Mouth Marketing Work for You

Word-of-mouth marketing is often considered one of the oldest and most powerful forms of advertising. In fact, most business people understand that it works–they just don’t know how it works.

If you want to be successful at developing word-of-mouth for your business, you should be as organized and thoughtful about it as you are about other types of advertising and marketing. In fact, if you take this approach, eventually, you can get most of your business exclusively through word-of-mouth! The key to creating a successful word-of-mouth program lies in developing a formal plan for systematically meeting people and cultivating relationships with them. Here are ten ways for you to get your own word-of-mouth marketing program off the ground.

Avoid being a cave dweller.

Get out and meet people. Start by setting a goal for the number of appointments you’ll establish with people you wish to develop networking relationships with every week. Social capital works for everybody, not just people who set out purposefully to become networkers.

Ask for the referral.

There are specific techniques you can learn and develop that will help you hone your ability to ask for the referrals you want. One such technique is to ask “Who do you know who…?” You would then list several types of people you can help, such as someone who is new to the area, someone recently married or someone who has just started a business.

Join three networking groups.

Consciously select at least three different business or networking groups to join in the next three months. These groups might include chambers of commerce, community service groups and trade associations. When joining various organizations, make sure you select a well-rounded mix of business groups in which to participate. Try to avoid being in more than one group per category (i.e., two chambers of commerce), as this will divide your loyalties and put you in a position where you’ll be making promises to too many people.

Create referral incentives.

Develop a creative incentive to encourage people to send referrals your way. A music store owner, for instance, sends music tickets to people who refer business to him. Another example is the chiropractor who posts thank-yous on a bulletin board in his waiting area to all his patients who referred patients to him the previous month.

Learn, learn, learn for lifelong learning.

Spend time developing your networking skills. Read books and articles on networking, listen to tapes, and talk to people who network well. Networking is an acquired skill.

Act like a host.

When attending a business mixer, act like a host, not a guest. You are wasting your time at mixers if you stand around visiting with coworkers or others you already know rather than meeting new contacts and introducing them around. These events offer a great way to increase your visibility! If appropriate, ask to be the ambassador or visitor host in the organizations to which you belong. As such, it will be your official duty to meet people and introduce them to others.

Create an elevator pitch.

Invest time in developing a brief message about your business that explains what you do. What would you say? I want you to keep in mind that this is not a sales pitch; it is a creative and succinct way to generate interest in the listener. When you introduce yourself to others, use your elevator pitch. Chances are, this will help them remember you and what you do. Keeping these seven rules in mind when you create an elevator pitch will set you apart from the crowd.

Take notes and follow up.

When you meet someone and exchange cards, take a few moments to flip the card over and jot down some information about them or their business that will help you remember them and follow up with them later. This is a very simple, yet powerful, way to make a great first impression that can be developed into a mutually beneficial networking partnership. When you follow up, I recommend that you offer opportunities, whether a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral.

Talk less and listen more.

Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them accordingly. Our success in networking 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.

Collaborate and help others.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Helping people shows that you care. Connect with people outside of business meetings whenever possible. Drop notes, letters and articles that might be of interest to them in the mail. Call to check in with them or invite them to events you may be attending that might be of interest.

You are potentially linked to a vast network beyond your own sphere. By implementing the tactics above, you will receive benefits from that network. Maximize your opportunities to cultivate networking relationships with others, and you will see just how effective word-of-mouth marketing can be!

inspire confidence

Inspire Confidence to Refer You

When it comes to getting referrals from your network, the confidence others have in you is a vital component. None of them wants to risk their personal reputation by referring to a stranger. Until you inspire confidence that referring contacts to you won’t harm their reputation with their clients, associates, friends or family, you’re still a stranger. People won’t refer you if they feel you’re going to let them down.

Your profession matters to inspire confidence

The more significant the business being referred to is, the greater the risk to the referrer’s reputation. If you’re a florist, it may take only a week or two for people who try your services to recommend you on the basis of their experience with you. The risk associated with referring a florist is usually small unless you’re bidding on a large wedding that also might be your referrer’s top client. If you’re a financial advisor, it may take you six months or a year to reach the critical confidence level. However, since the stakes are higher, your referrer stands to gain more if the results are successful.

No matter what line of work you’re in, if you don’t perform well, your referrer will learn of it and you may not get another referral from that source.

Educate others about your business to inspire confidence

Don’t assume your fellow networkers understand your company or industry well enough to refer you confidently. You have to educate them and keep on educating them as long as you’re in business.

A networking group like BNI is ideal because everybody is expected to address the group at regular intervals. Make your presentation interesting and stimulating. Tell them how your product or service improves others. Each time you speak, present a new aspect of your business. Let your knowledge and eloquence persuade them that you’re very good at what you do. You will inspire confidence and your name will come to mind whenever a referral opportunity arises.

If you’re following these simple tactics, then you are well along the road to getting all the referrals from others’ networks that you deserve by inspiring confidence to refer you.

additional ways others can promote

Additional Ways Others Can Promote You

Put your networking circle to work for you with these five additional suggestions you can use to promote others to generate new business for them. When other people offer to help you spread the word about your business, have these ideas ready to go. Here are the final five examples of additional ways others can promote you and your business from my book Networking Like a Pro.

Provide you with referrals.

The kind of support you’d most like to get from your sources is, of course, referrals–names and contact information for specific individuals who need your products and services. Sources can also help by giving prospects your name and number. As the number of referrals you receive increases, so does your potential for increasing the percentage of your business generated through referrals.

Introduce you to prospects.

Your source can help you build new relationships faster by introducing you in person. She can provide you with key information about the prospect. She can also tell the prospect a few things about you, your business, how the two of you met, some of the things you and the prospect have in common, and the value of your products and services.

Follow up with referrals they have given you.

Your sources can contact prospects they referred to you to see how things went after your first meeting, answer their questions or concerns, and reassure them that you can be trusted. They can also give you valuable feedback about yourself and your products or service, information that you might not have been able to get on your own.

Serve as a sponsor.

Some of your sources may be willing to fund or sponsor a program or event you are hosting. They might let you use a meeting room, lend you equipment, authorize you to use their organization’s name, or donate money or other resources.

Sell your products and services.

Of all the kinds of support that a source can offer, the one that has the greatest immediate impact on your bottom line is selling your product or service for you. Your network member could persuade a prospect to write a check for your product, then have you mail or deliver the product to your new customer. If you do so swiftly and cordially, you may gain a new lifelong customer.

Suppose a customer you know well tells you a friend of his wants to buy your product. How should you respond? While your interest is still hot, let your friend, the customer, take your product and sell it to his friend, the prospect (if he plans to see his friend in the near future, of course).

This set of five finishes the series of 15 ways others can promote you and your business. Last week I shared the second part of this series with, “Five More Ways Others Can Promote You”. Put your networking circle to work for you with these fifteen total ways others can promote you to generate new business.


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