Referrals Archives - Page 10 of 10 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Time Equals Money in Networking

The secret to getting more business through networking is . . . spend more time doing it! OK, well, it’s a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things.  However, based on the recently completed Referral Institute study on business networking, we finally have a definitive answer about how the amount of time spent networking impacts the amount of business that is generated.

The most dramatic statistic I have found shows that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.5 hours a week participating in networking activities. On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.

What does this mean? It means there is a direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you realize from it. To illustrate this further, there is a graph below which demonstrates the “average” percentage of business generated from someone’s networking efforts in comparison with the amount of time spent on networking activities.  Here you can clearly see that people who are spending between five to nine hours a week networking are generating (on average) 50 percent of their total business from this activity. 

People who spend, on average, more than 20 hours a week networking are getting almost 70 percent of their business through referrals.

Based on this study, it is clear that people who devote six hours a week or more to networking are generating a large percentage of their business through their efforts. So, it’s time to ask yourself . . . how much time are you spending developing your personal network and what kind of results are you starting to see?

Guardian at the Gate

When I started my first business, I knew I wanted referrals to play a key part in my overall growth strategy, and I began to realize I wasn’t the only one trying to get more sales through referrals.  A lot of other business professionals were trying to do the same thing.

So I thought, “What if I became the hub?”  If all the other people out there were trying to do the same thing as I was, why couldn’t I position myself as the gatekeeper of sorts between other people’s networks? Then, if someone was buying a new home and needed a real estate agent but didn’t have one in her own network, she would come to me and see whom I knew.

How did that help my business?

1.  It encouraged me to continue building and deepening my relationships with others, even if I didn’t think they could help me right away. Our natural tendency is to nurture relationships with those we feel can help us the most. But the fact is, we never know whom another person knows, so we should take every opportunity to build relationships with all those we make contact with.  Bob Smith might not be a good referral partner for me, but he could be ideal for Jane Doe, another person I know.

2.  Becoming a gatekeeper had a positive effect on my credibility. I wanted to be the go-to guy in the business community–the person others came to if they needed a referral for anything.  This meant that I would be deepening relationships with people I might not otherwise have gotten to know.  Since people do business with the people they like and trust, whom do you think got their referrals when they needed someone with my products and services? . . . Bingo! 🙂

When you’re networking, make an effort to build relationships with people who may be good referral partners for others in your network, and try to connect them with each other.  I guarantee if you do this consistently, you’ll get more referrals in the long run.

Referrals Are Not Equal

Last week I wrote a blog explaining that all referrals are not equal and that there are different levels of referrals.

The more time and effort your source puts into qualifying, educating and encouraging the prospect before you become involved, the higher the quality and level of that referral.  In level 4 through level 6 referrals, the quality of the referral is higher than level 1 through level 3 referrals.  Here’s why . . .

Level 4: General testimonial or letter of recommendation. Getting a referral source to say or write nice things about you is a major accomplishment.  His willingness to communicate positively about you and your business shows that you’ve built a moderate level of trust with him.  Of course, testimonials and letters of recommendation are fairly common in the business world, so their impact on the average person is limited.

Level 5: Letter of introduction and promotion. This is the first level of referral that truly involves a modicum of effort on the part of your referral source.  Unlike the letter of recommendation, which requires little more than a written endorsement, the note or letter of introduction implies a more substantive relationship between you and the referral source, and it usually includes background information and a description of your product or service as filtered through the lens of the author.  It also implies that the prospect will be hearing from you.

Adding the element of promotion increases the effectiveness of your referral source’s effort on your behalf.  Promotion is advocacy–an outright recommendation of your product or service with a description of its features and benefits.

Level 6: Introductory call and promotion. Another level up in terms of effort is the referral source who makes a personal phone call on your behalf.  It takes preparation and effort, but a telephone call from your source is more effective than a letter for paving your way to communicate with the prospect.  Including a promotion makes it even more favorable.

If you’re given a level 1 referral, you still have to do 95 percent of the work to close (which is not much better than a cold call) so the referral levels listed above are definitely more desirable than the referral levels I wrote about last week.  However, what you really want to get is a level 9 or 10 referral because with those, the person giving you the referral has already done most of the work for you.

Come back next week to find out the difference between referral levels 7, 8, 9 and 10–as I promised last week, this is where it gets good!

A Referral Is a Referral, Right? Wrong

A referral is better than a cold call because you have the name of the prospect and, if you’re fortunate, you can use the name of the referral source to open the door. What more could you hope for? Actually, there’s quite a bit more you can expect from referrals that have been properly developed by their sources.

You see, all referrals are not equal.  Referrals come in many different grades and they vary in quality according to how much involvement your referral source has invested in preparing the referral for you.

Here are the first three levels of referrals:

1.  Name and contact information only. This isn’t much better than having just a name to call.  It only indicates that your referral source has done just enough work to provide you with a phone number, address or some other way of contacting the prospect.

2.  Literature, biography and company information. When a referral source offers to give a contact your marketing literature or other information about your business, all you can be certain of is that the prospect will see the materials.  The prospect’s interest in your product or service will depend solely on the impact of your marketing message.

3.  Authorization to use name. Once a referral source has authorized you to use her name, you can feel fairly certain that you’ve established a good level of credibility with her.  By allowing you to say that she endorses your product or service, your source has given you valuable leverage with the prospect; however, the problem with this level of referral is that the burden of developing the prospect still rests on you.  Once you’ve conveyed that your referral source recommends you and your business, the task of selling really begins.

Think about the referrals you’ve gotten over the past couple of months.  Now, think about which referrals fall into each of the three categories above.  I’d love to hear your comments about the different results you’ve gotten from level 1, level 2 and level 3 referrals, so I encourage you to post your experiences below.

I’ll tell you more about level 4 through level 6 referrals next week; and in two weeks, I’ll get to the really good stuff . . . level 7 through level 10 referrals!

Simple Recognition Is Sometimes the Best Reward

Rather than receiving a finder’s fee, for most referral sources  it is more important to be recognized as a person who can direct others to the goods and services provided by skilled, highly competent, trustworthy people.

Over the years I’ve witnessed time and again that most people will do more for simple recognition than for money. However, for those who expect a finder’s fee, this is a good thing to know in advance if you want to keep the relationship healthy, active and profitable.

You will find that different motivators will inspire different members of your referral team, and this is a matter in which understanding the various behavioral styles of people can be helpful.

People who are embarrassed by being in the spotlight, even for accolades and applause, might prefer their rewards low-key and private–perhaps a simple thank you or an evening cruise on your boat if you are a boat owner.  Those who like public recognition might prefer seeing their name showcased on your bulletin board.  Still others may be more highly motivated by an inexpensive but thoughtful gift than by a more substantial cash reward–a bottle of wine from a winery near their hometown or a coffee table book about their favorite travel destination.

The point is, simple recognition really resonates with most people and, more often than not, simply recognizing people in the way they prefer to be recognized is a far better reward and incentive for them to refer you to others than offering them a cash finder’s fee.

If you’re in the habit of recognizing people as a way of thanking them for referrals, please leave a comment about what’s worked for you and even what hasn’t.  Then check back next week to read my story about a way in which someone recognized me that kept me motivated to refer that person over and over again!

The Nature of a Referral Relationship

Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them.  However, this is not how things work.

Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.

Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability.  Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability.  That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.

By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.

Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing.  “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around.  It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!”  If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.

You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another.  To get referrals, you have to perform.  If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need?  You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you.  Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.

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