A client started working with me because she was frustrated with the fact that she had invested years in networking and wasn’t getting the business she thought she would get. As a result of more than five years of intense effort, her results were:
- lots of deep relationships with quality business owners,
- a fantastic reputation as an expert in her field,
- the satisfaction of connecting many people in her network for business gain, and
- lots of meetings, mediocre lunches, and mileage.
What she didn’t get was referrals and new clients!
I see this over and over with entrepreneurs. While the value of networking is clear, the frustration of investing time without significant results is a reality for many people.
The primary cause is not leveraging your relationships for referrals. Asking for referrals is random. Waiting for referrals to come is a strategy based on hope. Creating referrals is what works. We have to transform our relationships into referrals to create more revenue.
Referrals come from doing the right things with the right people at the right time. It is a team sport and you are the captain of your team. Every team needs a playbook, but not all playbooks are the same.
How can you connect with the right people to be on your referral team?
- Know who you need to know and how they can help you.
- Train them to say the right things about you and connect you to the people you need to meet.
- Ask for what you need and define the steps to take to help you grow your business.
Who do you need to meet?
Start with your current network. You probably know many of them already:
- People who can connect you to your ideal clients.
- People who serve the same ideal clients and don’t compete with you.
- People whose clients need what you do.
- People who can meet the wants and needs of your clients.
- People of influence in your networking groups who can help you build your brand and credibility.
- People who can connect you to business opportunities for visibility and collaborations.
Train them on what to say to build credibility with people you need to know.
People in your trusted network can educate the market on what you do. Their endorsement increases your credibility before you even meet them.
Have a clear message about what you do and what outcomes you deliver to your clients. Make it concise and easy to remember. Ask your promotion partners to say this when they introduce you to someone or talk about you.
What is your promise to clients?
- Who do you help?
- What do you do better than your competitors?
- Why do your clients hire you?
Ask for what you need and tell your partners how to do it.
Let people know how to help you. If you both commit to helping each other grow the business, identify prospects and other people you know who would be good referrals for your partner. Not everyone can create referrals for you, but there are many other things they can do to help you.
Review their client list to see who might need your services (honor any confidentiality restrictions).
Find out who they know well who would be an ideal prospect or referral relationship for you. Review the networking group member directory and identify people they know and members you want to meet.
Strategize how to connect you to the people they know well … when and how to make the introduction and what to say to create mutual benefit from the connection.
You can’t go from zero to a steady flow of referrals in one step. Look at your best relationships. If you think they have access to your ideal clients or other people you need to know, talk to them about exploring a mutually beneficial relationship. Find out how to help them.
If there is agreement, train each other on what to say. Network together and start creating introductions to the right people. Debrief often and brainstorm how to accelerate the know, like and trust factor for each other so you can start to get new clients and referral partners in your networking organizations.
Referrals are in the conversation.
Make every conversation count. Remember you attend events to network for referrals, not to socialize with friends. Having objectives for who to meet and how to help your partners will assure each networking meeting you attend will move you one step closer to creating a steady stream of referrals to drive business growth.
Victoria Trafton is a referral strategist who helps professional service providers collaborate with the right people to create a steady stream of referrals to their ideal clients. For more information, visit www.sisterhoodofhappiness.com.