Referrals Archives - Page 20 of 23 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Networking Lessons From Nature

Recently, when visiting our favorite Napa Valley winery, Chateau Montelena, my wife and I decided to take a tour of the agricultural side of the operation.  The vintner shared with us the technique the winery uses to ensure the quality of the juice from the grapes year after year after year regardless of the climate–a technique known as “dry farming.”

As he explained the benefits of dry farming, I began to see a business metaphor emerging for how referral marketing works for those businesses that understand doing business by referral.

When vineyards are dry farmed, they are not irrigated, dry season or rainy.  As a result, the roots of the vines must grow deep to get to the year-round underground supply of water, no matter the climate.  This reminds me of how we teach business owners to develop deep-water relationships between themselves so that they can support growth no matter the climate–the economic climate.

Doing business by referral truly is not about getting rich quick.  We want to be able to produce a bumper crop of referrals year after year after year regardless of the climate.

That is the gift of dry farming:  the stability of the juice’s quality.  Just like the dependability of Chateau Montelena’s wine, we feel that deep-water relationships ensure a dependability in our own business stability unavailable to the average business owner.

There is another metaphor from nature that helps to illustrate the strength of doing business by referral–that is the story of the giant redwood trees in Northern California.

The giant redwoods average a height of 85 meters or 250 feet!  You’d think that with such an amazing height they would also have a deep, deep root system.  But they don’t.  They actually have a fairly shallow root system, much like our California eucalyptus trees.  The California eucalyptus trees tend to blow over easily in heavy winds, but not the giant redwoods.

You see, the giant redwoods also use an amazing technique to remain upright when those around them fall.  They intertwine  their roots with the roots of their neighbor, thereby supporting one another when the winds come.  When one is under the direct pressure of the wind, the others help to hold it in place, not allowing it to succumb to the destructive forces of that wind.

Relationship marketing puts you in a similar position as those giant redwoods.  When you learn the intricacies of doing business by referral, you begin to metaphorically intertwine your roots with the roots of those with whom you are networking.  When the economy pressures one member, the others help hold him in place!

This is why networking and relationship marketing are so important–especially in a tough economy.

Ask Ivan Misner

I’ve spoken to tens of thousands of people and written many books and articles on networking, referral marketing, sales, business and success.

I’ve had many questions on these topics over the years and I have recently decided to compile the best questions and my answers to them as part of a project that I am doing with my good friend Alex Mandossian.

If you could ask me just one question about networking, referral marketing, business or success, what would your most important question be?

Post it here on this blog.  I’ll be answering your questions as part of my project with Alex as well as here on this blog site.

OK, what are you waiting for?  Post that question while it’s fresh in your mind.

Thanks!

Networking Downloadables

networkingnow_microbanner3.gifSome months back, I posted a blog entry telling people about a website I’m affiliated with called NetworkingNow.com.  In that blog post, I encouraged people to check out the site and try out the service for free for 30 days.  Quite a few people took me up on the free offer, and I got a lot of great feedback from people saying they planned to continue using NetworkingNow.com after the trial period.  Because of that, I have decided to extend the offer again.

NetworkingNow.com is a site where you can gain instant access to dynamic networking information via the web and learn the most successful strategies to build your business through networking.  The site offers dozens of downloadable PDF articles, MP3 audio files and digital books as part of its downloadable library.  It has also recently added video content.  Subscribers receive full access to the wealth of online and downloadable content, which is refreshed monthly.

So feel free to visit the site. And if you think you might be interested in joining the NetworkingNow.com community of networking expertise, try it out for free for 30 days.  To take advantage of this offer, go to NetworkingNow.com, click “subscribe now,” select the 30-day subscription, and enter: free30days in the coupon field.  Your first 30 days will be free, but if you want to continue after that you’ll be billed at the monthly subscription rate.

Check it out and let me know what you think.

Use This Networking Trick to Increase Business

One of the most common networking questions I get asked is, “How do I generate referrals for other people?”  Well, this same question is exactly what I was asking myself in the early ’80s when I was just starting my consulting business. I came up with a technique that had a huge impact on my ability to provide quality referrals to others–which, of course, led to me getting referrals.

I realized that I needed to be the person whom people came to if they needed a referral for anything–the “gatekeeper” of referrals . . .  the “go-to guy.”  So I composed a letter that I sent out to my client list several times a year.  Today you could send out a quick e-mail to your database, but you should send it at least once a year as hard copy just to stand out from everybody else who’s e-mailing your clients.  Here’s a sample letter:

Dear________:

I really believe in the process of referrals, so part of the service I provide is to be sure to refer my clients and associates to other qualified businesspeople in the community.

Attached is a list of areas in which I know very credible, ethical and outstanding professionals.  If you’re looking for a professional in a specific area I’ve listed, please feel free to contact me.  I will be glad to put you in touch with the people I know who provide these services.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ivan Misner

Notice when you read this letter that I just listed professions; I didn’t list names and phone numbers.  I wanted my clients to contact me so I could put the referral and the contact together–so I could build business relationships through being the go-to guy.  What began to happen was that others would ask someone on my client list, “Whom do you know who does XYZ?”  If they didn’t know anyone, then they would send that person to me.

The importance of becoming a gatekeeper is huge for anyone seeking to grow a business with word-of-mouth marketing.  It’s a strategy that gets people not only to contact you for a referral, but also to open up a dialogue with people about what your business is all about and how you can help them.  This, in turn, leads to more business with existing clients and new business with prospects.

Allow this to open the door for reciprocal sharing and giving.  You’ll be amazed at how much more business you’ll find you’re able to do as a result.

Penny Wise and Time Foolish

mikemacedonio_77.jpgMy  good friend and partner in the Referral Institute, Mike Macedonio (pictured here), is my guest blogger today.  He recently wrote a great article about referrals that takes an interesting look at the two investments involved in referral marketing–time and money.  If you want to learn how to avoid falling into the trap of being penny wise and time foolish, I recommend that you read this material–it’s great content.

Penny Wise and Time Foolish
By Mike Macedonio

Is it just me or is anyone else shaking their head at the assertion that “word-of-mouth marketing and referral marketing are FREE advertising.” Clearly, referral marketing (done properly) is a cost-effective way to get businness, but the only way I can possibly see making it FREE is to do nothing at all.

So what is the investment for referral marketing? There are two investments with building your business by referral: time and money. I’m surprised when I ask business owners how much they are investing in referral marketing and they don’t have any idea. Is it because it is so cost-effective that they don’t think it is worth budgeting or tracking? Maybe. However, I also see businesspeople turn down opportunities to get involved in networking organizations, acquire training, attend conferences or sponsor strategic alliance events for financial reasons.

What about the hidden cost? How much time are you spending networking and meeting with referral sources?  What is your time worth? Often when I ask that question, I get the billable rate.  Here is the simple formula I use. How much you earn, divided by how much you work. For example, if you’re making $120,000 a year working 40 hours per week, 50 weeks a year, your time is worth $60 per hour. You may be billing $150 per hour; however, after you factor in everything else you are doing, this is what your time is returning to you.

When you consider that the serious active networker will spend eight hours a week attending networking events, networking online, meeting with referral sources and giving time to activities with his network, that works out to 400 hours per year or $24,000 of time invested a year. Hmmm, that doesn’t sound like FREE to me.

Referral marketing is the most cost-effective way to grow your business. Getting the best return on your time and money requires a clear referral marketing plan. Will you be spending your time doing the right things, with the right people, in the right organizations? Investing in referral marketing knowledge will help you get the best return for your time investment.  Be careful not to fall into the common trap of being penny wise and time foolish with your referral marketing.  Create a budget and invest appropriately in your referral marketing.

I’d love to pass your feedback about this article along to Mike, so feel free to leave any comments below.

Make a Referral Week (March 9-13, 2009)

johnjantschlogo.gifAs I’ve said time and time again, I firmly believe that the way to survive and thrive in an economic downturn is to ignore the doom-and-gloom headlines and focus instead on what you can do to grow your business despite fluctuations in the economy.

That’s why I’m hoping all of you will join me in participating in Make a Referral Week, which is a campaign inviting everyone around the globe to make 1,000 referrals during the week of March 9-13.  It’s an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small-business economy–one referred business at a time.

The goal of generating 1,000 referrals to 1,000 deserving small businesses highlights the idea that by taking one simple action and generating one referral to a small business, you really can make a difference and help jumpstart the economy.  Small business is the lifeblood and job-creating engine of the economy, and if we all pledge to make one referral, we could possibly generate millions of dollars in new business.

The weeklong, virtual event also features daily education programs focused on teaching small-business owners and other marketers how to tap the power of referral marketing. I’ll be featured, along with my friends Bob Burg and Bill Cates, on Tuesday, March 10.

Click here to learn more and join the campaign.

If you do join me in participating next week, I’d love to hear back from you about the referral(s) you generated.

The 10 Commandments of Business Networking

A friend of mine, Melinda Potcher, adapted some of my material and created the 10 Commandments of Business Networking.

She did a great job, and I thought I’d share it with everyone here on my blog.

 

1. Thou Shalt Not Sell To Me. If we’re trying to help one another get more business, you tell me your target market, I tell you my target market and when we are out in the world, we speak well of one another and refer one another. Do not try to sell me–I’m your referral resource. If I need your product or service, know that I will call you.  Use our relationship to sell through me, to get to those 250-plus people I know.

2. Thou Shalt Understand The Law of Reciprocity. If I’m sending you business, please keep me top of mind. Giving me a new client is the best thank you I can receive, and I will continue working to find you referrals if I know you appreciate me.

3. Thou Shalt Not Abuse Our Relationship. Sending me a bogus referral just to use me, my expertise or my resources for free without asking permission first is the fastest way to lose my respect.

4. Thou Shalt Not Be Late . If we have a meeting set to get to know one another and strategize how we can refer each other business, do not reschedule our appointment more than twice. I blocked a chunk of time in my schedule FOR YOU, and I respect you enough to be on time.

5. Thou Shalt Be Specific . Specific Is Terrific! If you tell me your target market is “anybody” or “everybody,” that means nobody to me. The more specific you are, the easier it will be for me to find you business.

6. Thou Shalt Take Your Business Seriously . As your networking partner, I need to know your intentions.If your company is a hobby business, it will be difficult for me to assist you. If it’s part-time, you are limited in the time you spend working on your business and working to find me referrals. However, if you’re working your business part time with a goal of making it full time, I am there for you, 100 percent.

7. Thou Shalt Follow Up On Referrals. When I send you business, please follow up with that prospect in a timely fashion–say 24 hours. If you’re going out of town or will not be available for some time, a quick e-mail or phone call to the person to let them know when you will be available will preserve your credibility and protect my reputation in recommending you to someone I know and care about.

8. Thou Shalt Communicate. If I do something to upset you, send you a “bad” referral or cause you to have ill feelings toward me, please communicate with me as soon as possible. I may not be aware I have caused a problem for you; if you tell me, I can try to fix it. Referral networking is about relationships! Relationships and referrals are at the heart of my business.

9. Thou Shalt Protect My Reputation. Most people would rather die than risk their reputations. If I receive feedback from a referral I have sent you that is disparaging or derogatory, it is as though you cut me off at the knees. Please do what you say you will do and live up to the ethical standards of your profession.

10. Thou Shalt Prepare For Success. If you really want to grow your business, then prepare to receive it. I will move mountains for my networking partners to ensure they get referrals on a consistent basis. I am a Ninja Networker–you may not always see me working on your behalf.

Thanks to Melinda. You can visit her website at: HomeLoansAlbuquerque.com

What do you think?  Would you add anything to this list (OK, I know you can’t have “11 Commandments,” but play with me here).

Read the Paper, with Referral Intent . . .

 

Most people read the newspaper to gain insight into local and world events and news–and that’s all.  I’m suggesting that you try reading the paper a little differently–to look for opportunities for referrals.

Pick up your local newspaper and scan the front page. Turn to the local section, then the business news, and then the lifestyle section. The paper is teeming with opportunities for you to act as a gatekeeper for the people in your network. Every page presents problems or significant issues of one kind or another.

What are people saying? Who is talking about problems or changes in her company or industry?  What is happening that could have a direct impact on you or someone in your network?  Who is in need of the services of someone you know?  Where are there networking opportunities for you and your marketing team?

So why not start out by reading the paper this week with referral intent for two people in your network?  Find each of them an opportunity or a lead that they might capitalize on through their network.  Then find your own business a lead or two on which you can capitalize, and begin to ask your network for help in making the connection for you.

Clearly, these are more “leads” than “referrals.” However, there’s nothing wrong with telling a business associate about the details you just read about relating to a new company moving into town.  It’s good to show your referral partners you are looking out for them and–you never know–it could turn into something good.

Try this strategy out and then come back and leave a comment to let me know how it worked out–I’m very interested to see what happens!

Welcome to International Networking Week

Welcome to the third annual International Networking Week (Feb 2-6).

Now, more than ever, we need to ignore the doom-and-gloom headlines and focus on what we can do to promote our own business growth.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world. It’s about creating an awareness of the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking,” an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful relationships with people through the networking process.

Last year, International Networking Week was recognized by tens of thousands of people around the world, and it has garnered acknowledgements from several governmental agencies across the globe. It’s expected that the number of people participating in this year’s worldwide celebration of the week, through hundreds of large events and thousands of smaller events, will be double what it was in 2008.

If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week and let them know they can visit InternationalNetworkingWeek.com for more information.  Let’s join together in celebrating the things we can do do promote global prosperity, instead of worrying about the things we can’t control.

Watch this 10-minute video talking about International Networking Week 2009.  Share the video with anybody and everybody, and feel free to show it at your networking meetings during International Networking Week.

So what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Share it with us here–we’d love to hear about it.

Triple Your Business Revenue By Writing

A business contact of mine telephoned me awhile back to ask why I wasn’t including writing in my business training anymore. I had previously included it in my training sessions because I think it is an extremely valuable way to establish credibility in business. However, when I checked the numbers, I realized that only about 2 percent of the people I trained in writing really picked up on the message and followed through.

In other words, 98 percent of people I trained never used the advice at all. So of course I stopped teaching it. Well, my business associate asserted over the phone that I should be training on writing regardless of the small number of people who were doing something with the advice because, he claimed, the results for the people that do take action are absolutely phenomenal. He urged me to include writing in my business training because it is worth teaching for the sake of those 2 percent who get amazing results.

In my most recent show on yourBusinessChannel.com, I talk more about how this business colleague of mine took my advice on writing years ago and turned his business around. By his own calculations, he tripled his revenue by becoming a well-published author of business articles.

Watch the show HERE and then think about how writing might help you increase your business revenue.  Will it take hard work and dedication? Yes.  Is that hard work and dedication worth the results you will get? Definitely.

You Never Know Who’ll Give You a Great Referral

One of the biggest mistakes you can make in networking is to dismiss someone too early, to assume that he or she has nothing to offer you because of his or her professional background or some other reason, and not pursue the relationship.  Unfortunately, I see this happen a lot.

The truth is, you simply never know where your next great referral is going to come from.  You should make it a point to consistently connect with high-quality professionals from all fields, from any and every background. Forget about trying to contact the VPs and high-level executives–they don’t want to hear another sales pitch. But any professional who is good at what he or she does will be well-connected to other highly successful businesspeople.

Take my painting contractor, for example. Through his work he has come to know A-list Hollywood celebrities, among many other affluent people. He’s one of the most connected people I know.

I have a favorite story, which I think illustrates this point perfectly.  In this case, a multimillion-dollar referral (one of the biggest I’ve seen recently) was given by a dentist in Malaysia. She briefly shut down her practice to attend a networking conference. When she reopened, one of her clients asked her about the conference and, as a result, she was able to connect the client with someone she’d met at the conference–which led to the the multimillion dollar referral.

If you want to hear the details of this powerful story, watch my latest show on yourBusinessChannel.com.

By the way, my shows on yourBusinessChannel are related to my involvement in the Million Dollar Challenge.  The Million Dollar Challenge invites promising businesses across the globe to take the challenge and have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform their business and skyrocket it into success with a team of acclaimed business experts.  CLICK HERE to find out more.

Do What Others Don’t

To some businessspeople, networking is something to try when they’re hurting for business.  However, networking is actually a primary strategy for generating business relationships that lead to more referrals.  When done correctly, networking is a proactive strategy for business growth, not a reaction to slow business.

I think the most important single idea in networking is to do what others don’t.  Doing what others don’t gives you an edge.  It can position you head and shoulders above your competition.  It helps you stand out in a positive way and, when you do, people are attracted to you and your business, and your success grows stronger, deeper and more durable.

So go beyond the norm. Take the time to gather information for improving your business by getting straightforward feedback from people.  This will help you identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses so you can take corrective action.  Some more ideas that most people don’t take the time or effort to implement are:

  •  Adopt the attitude of a host at networking mixers.
  • Use your influence and professional status to help members of your network solve problems.
  • Learn to specifically ask for referrals.
  • Take every opportunity to educate yourself on how to better your business and your networking efforts.
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