I am often asked, “Ivan, how can I move a relationship with someone I just met to the point where that new contact feels comfortable passing referrals to me?”
I always say that the best way to get to this next referral-passing stage depends in part on how you came into contact with a person in the first place. For example, if you met while you were giving a brief presentation to a group of people who are in your target market, and assuming you did a good job, then you certainly have the possibility of receiving a referral, even though you just met. Why? Because the presentation moved you through the VCP Process® from visibility to credibility in the new contact’s mind, and now they may be willing to risk their reputation and recommend you to someone they know.
The same thing is true when you are business networking. When you have a good conversation with someone you meet, and intentionally add value to the conversation, then moving from visibility to credibility can happen rather easily, and you’ll be in a good position for getting some referral-based business. What’s more, it’s not too important whether the person is someone you might do business with directly. Even if your businesses don’t match up, the other person might have information that’s useful to you, or they might know other people to whom you would like to be connected. It’s usually worthwhile to develop a networking relationship with people who have little in common with you because they can connect you with an entirely new network and help you broaden your business horizons.
Keep in mind that even with a strong possibility that you’re going to do business with this new contact, it is unlikely to happen right there at the networking event, where conversations typically last anywhere from an eye-blink three minutes to a long-winded seven minutes. Instant business is not likely to be had. However, if you follow up with a quick note or message a few days later, you can set a time to meet with the new business contact one-to-one and come up with ways the two of you can help each other. That meeting is where you’ll have your best opportunity to begin receiving referrals.
What is your experience with moving to the referral stage with new contacts? Do you have an effective tactic to share? I’d love to hear about it.