Networking for the ‘Difficult to Refer’ Business

After a recent speaking engagement I did, a woman appoached me and asked my advice on the dilemma of getting qualified referrals for a “difficult to refer” business. She was passing as many referrals as she could to others, but because her business seemed to revolve around such a niche market, the business referrals she was receiving were slim to none, and she was starting to get discouraged.

I referred her to an article I wrote a few years back that addresses this exact predicament; and since I’m sure some of my blog readers are in businesses that are more difficult to refer than others, I thought I’d shed some light on the subject here. For networkers in businesses that don’t easily generate word of mouth, there is hope for your company because there are still ways you can successfully network and build your company’s reputation.

Years ago, I learned that speaking engagements are a great short-term approach to getting new business while you’re working on the long-term process of word of mouth. You see, when you schedule an appointment with someone you think might be interested in what you’re selling, that time you spend with them–usually an hour–is very important. Well, imagine having that same one-hour appointment with 20 to 50 businesspeople in your community, all at the same time! In effect, that’s what you’re doing when you’re asked to make a presentation at various clubs and organizations.

So, how do you go about getting on the calendars of these business and service groups? It isn’t as hard as you might think. With a little creativity, you can put together a presentation that will be informational, educational and even entertaining. Most important, you can get referrals from people to help you get in front of them. Usually program chairs are scrambling to find someone different, engaging and interesting to come in and present to the group. Your job is to help them find you!

To see a sample of the letter I used to send to program chairs when I owned a consulting firm, click here to go to the article. Getting speaking engagements can make your company easy for anyone to refer and it can also get you a lot of clients while you’re busy building your business.

If you have any comments or thoughts on other techniques that are useful for businesses that are “difficult to refer,” I’d love to hear your feedback.

4 thoughts on “Networking for the ‘Difficult to Refer’ Business

  1. For a difficult to refer business, instead of asking for referrals to “end clients”, focus on referrals to potential “business partners” – businesses that compliment your business or even compete with your business. Develop long term strategic partnerships with these businesses, they will better understand who your perfect client is and be able to refer you business.

  2. Dear Dr. Misner,

    Speaking engagements are a great way to promote any business and elevate your credibility as the “expert”.

    I once had a chapter member for whom I found it particularly difficult to find referrals. As suggested by Z above, even referral sources where hard to find for this person. Since it was a consultancy type of business, I suggested nicely done postcards that could be redeemed for an hour of free consultation. I passed them out to candidates who I thought might be a good match for my chapter member. It was successful in getting him the appointments and then the outcome was on his shoulders.

    I would like to add that I have not seen any profession that can not be promoted through referral marketing. In some cases; the more unusual or unique they are, the better it works for them.

    Tom Doiron

  3. It is all about getting the relationship to the top of the funnel. I always try to look at how any of my products will help a specific niche. Veterans, Industry groups and trade associations are always looking for spekaers for programs they put on. Practice 15 minute presentations and learn how to use Powerpoint. Making a CD can also help. It is not as expensive as you think.

    I agree with Tom, every business can be referred. The message has to get to a qualified prospect. Where does your current business come from? Maybe they have inroads to these groups.

    Regards and luck,

    John Klassen
    Newburgh, NY

  4. What a smart way to increase your networking capabilities and find new ways to introduce to your business. Thanks for this tip… It is a gem that I won’t soon forget.

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