I have previously talked about the Time-Confidence Curve, which is also in my book Networking Like a Pro 2nd Edition. The Time-Confidence Curve illustrates the way that your fellow networkers must gain enough confidence in you to know that referring people to you will not hurt their own reputations.
That confidence is built in the time spent at your networking meetings such as BNI® and at other professional events where you interact with fellow members and share information about your services and products.
Similarly, your business also has a Time-Confidence Curve. It goes beyond the confidence that someone has in you personally; they must have confidence in your business to give you referrals.
Small Details Make a Big Difference
People are constantly judging us and judging how we act in our business. Small details can make a big difference in people’s impression of, and confidence in, your business.
Keep it up-to-date and available.
Is your outgoing message friendly and helpful to the caller? A welcoming voice message, along with a prompt return call, help to build confidence.
Beware of the full mailbox. If a potential client calls your company and is unable to leave a message, it is unlikely that they will call again. If your out-of-office message says “I’ll be back from vacation on March 3rd“, answer all the messages as soon as you get back. If you wait until April to return the calls, the opportunity will be gone.
Additionally, if I’m calling someone in April and I hear the March 3rd vacation message, I think “Well, if they can’t bother to change their auto reply message, will they follow up with me and my problem?”
Keep politics and profanity out of business social media.
A few years ago, I counseled a BNI Member about the profanity they regularly used on their social media. I asked, “What are you thinking by using that type of language?” to which they replied, “What? It’s just my Facebook page.”
They also posted a lot of political stuff, which is a neutral negative. That means people are either not going to care or they are going to be upset that you said those things.
Potential clients often do research on companies, and on people they are interested in doing business with. Seeing extreme language or political views on social media may change their mind about doing business with someone.
EMPLOYEES AND STAFF
The people who represent your company have an impact on your business’s credibility.
If you have employees, their behavior can affect your referability. If a potential customer goes to a store or office and the staff is rude, short-tempered, or even ignores them, that reflects on the owner AND on the company. Help your staff understand what good customer service means in your business, then show them what it looks like by consistently setting the example.
Train employees how to take an effective message if someone calls for you while you’re out. Then return the call promptly.
Feedback is Your Friend
Whether it is good or bad, feedback can be helpful. Ask people who have used your company for their feedback. What did they like? What would have made the experience even better for them? Use that information to make thoughtful and positive changes in your organization.
Call your own phone to hear your voicemail message. If you have employees, call from a number they don’t know and see what the response is. If you have a building that is open to the public, walk in the front door and look around as though it is your first time. Experience your business in the same way potential clients will experience it.
It is not only what you do at networking meetings that affects your referability. Your behavior in every arena impacts your credibility with referral partners and prospective new customers. It takes time for both you and your business to gain the confidence that people need to refer new customers to you.