reputation Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Referral Marketing: Know the Risks, Reap the Rewards

In a radio interview I once did, the host of the program asked me whether I consider referral marketing the safest form of advertising. Without the slightest hesitation, I confidently answered, “By all means, no.” Based on his response, I’m sure he was shocked by that answer.

I went on to explain that I believe very strongly in the tremendous benefits that word-of –mouth marketing can bring. However, there are unique risks associated with referral advertising that are not an issue in commercial or other forms of advertising.

When you give a referral, you give a little of your reputation away. If the business you’ve referred someone to does a good job, it helps your reputation. But if it does a poor job, your reputation may be hurt.

As I said, the payoffs of referral marketing are immense—when it’s done correctly. But referral marketing involves a really big risk: giving away a piece of your reputation every time you give a referral to someone. When you tell a valued customer that a friend of yours is going to take good care of them, you must have confidence in that friend.

But what happens if your friend lets your customer down? It comes back to haunt you. Your customer begins to lose faith in you and, because of that loss of faith, you just might lose that customer down the road. This is why it’s so important to develop strong relationships with those to whom you’re referring business and vice versa. Once those strong connections are forged you can rest easy, knowing when you tell someone a business associate or a networking partner is going to take good care of him or her, that’s what will happen.

Do you have a story others might learn from about a time when referral marketing really paid off for you, or a story about how you experienced the unique risks associated with referral marketing firsthand?  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  I’d love to hear from you–thanks!

Enhancing Your Reputation through Referral Marketing

For those of you who think the referral process is the safest form of doing business, here’s some information that may surprise you . . . the referral process is, in reality, the least safe form of doing business yet it is well worth the risk if you do it right and it can significantly enhance your reputation and contribute to the growth of your business.

In this brief video, I talk about how referral marketing can not only enhance your reputation but can also result in a “win-win-win” situation for you, the person who refers people to you, and for the client who was referred to you and ends up using your products and services.

If you have a story or an example of how referral marketing helped you enhance your reputation, I’d love to hear it so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Getting to the Referral Stage with a New Contact

People often ask me how to move a relationship with someone they just met to the point where the new contact feels comfortable passing them a referral.

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.  Let’s say you met while giving a brief presentation to a group of people who are in your target market.  Assuming you did a good job, then you absolutely have the possibility of receiving a referral, even though you just met.  Why? Because the presentation moved you from visibility to credibility in the new contact’s mind and now they’re probably willing to risk their reputation and recommend you to someone they know.

The same thing is true when you’re out networking.  If you have a good conversation with someone and truly add value to the conversation, then moving from visibility to credibility isn’t that difficult, and you’ll be in great shape for getting some referral-based business.  What’s more, it’s not terribly 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 or might know other people you’d like to get in contact with.  It’s often worthwhile to develop a networking relationship with people who have little in common with you because they can bring an entirely new network into contact with yours and broaden your business horizons.

Just bear in mind that even if there is a strong possibility that you’re going to do business with this new contact, it’s probably not going to happen there at the networking event, where conversations last anywhere from an eye-blink three minutes to a long-winded seven.  Instant business is not likely to be had.  But if you follow up with a quick note a few days later, you can make some one-to-one time and come up with ways the two of you can help each other.  That meeting is where you’ll have your best opportunity for a quick referral.

What has your experience been with moving to the referral stage with new contacts–do you have a tactic that seems to be particularly effective?  If so, please share it in the comments section.

 

Don’t Make This Mistake at Your Next Networking Event

If you were sitting in an important meeting with your biggest client and you got a text message, would you stop listening to your client and completely tune him out in order to respond to the text message?

What if you got a phone call . . . would you stop mid-presentation as you were pitching your most important client about your newest product in order to answer the call??  Of course you wouldn’t!  That would be a blatantly rude move on your part and it would put your most valued client relationship at risk.

So, why in the world would anybody ever even consider looking at their mobile phone during a networking meeting?? Make no mistake, a good reason for looking at, picking up, or using your mobile phone in any way during any type of networking meeting does not exist!

One of the fastest ways to ruin your credibility and earn yourself a reputation as being rude, unprofessional, and undeserving of referrals is to use your mobile phone during a networking meeting. It virtually screams to your networking partner(s): I don’t care what you have to say because I have better things to do right now and this meeting is not worth my time.

If you want results from your networking efforts, which I’m assuming you do if you’re reading this blog, then that is the last thing you would ever feel about or  say to anyone in your network.  But, if you’re using your mobile phone during meetings with people in your referral network, I promise you–not only is that the exact message you are sending them, you’re also wasting their time and yours.

So, do yourself a favor and check your phone one last time before your networking meeting . . . check that it is completely turned off and don’t turn it back on until you leave the meeting.  Remember, networking meetings and mobile phones don’t mix!

Make the Connection

One of my employees told me this week that she passed some advice from one of my books on to her cousin; it was about making connections at networking functions.  She told me that her cousin, Greg, recently joined a chamber of commerce to promote the new business he started after being laid off from the company he had worked in for a number of years and he felt clueless as to how to form connections with the strangers he came in contact with at mixers.

My employee remembered reading an article by Alice Ostrower in my book Masters of Networking about making connections so she passed it on to Greg. Reportedly he feels much more comfortable at mixers and has been having a lot more success in networking his business because he now has a strategy for making connections and he feels he knows his purpose when he arrives at a networking event.

Here are the four standard techniques that have been working for Greg and I guarantee they will help you get your networking message across effectively and encourage a positive response (Thanks, Alice! :)):

1.  Get the person’s attention.  Show interest by asking questions: “How are you?” “Where are you from?” “What do you do?” “Have you heard about? . . .” “Did you know? . . .”

2.  Add interest.  Respond to the answer but don’t move the conversation to you; elicit more information from the other person.

3.  Involve.  Use the “feel, felt, found” formula (“I know how you feel, I felt the same way, and this is what I found”) to involve yourself in the other person’s message before you deliver your own.

4.  Network.  Tie it all together by connecting one person’s needs or goals with the resources, needs, or goals of another person.  For example: “I felt the same way until I met John Jones.  He really helped me accomplish my goals.  Why don’t I have him give you a call?  Is tomorrow evening convenient?”

This is networking at its best.  Your new acquaintance finds a solution to a problem, your referral gets new business, and you gain a reputation as a friendly, reliable, knowledgeable person who seems to know everybody.  Your name and reputation will become familiar to more and more people, and your business will automatically benefit in the long run.

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