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Networking 101: Survival Guide to Referrals

In all aspects of business networking, there is a right and wrong way to do things. Or maybe, a better way over another to generate the response you hope for.

Ever got a call from your friend, Sally, who says, “Hey! I’ve to the best referral for you! Take this number down…his name is Bob!”

You get excited! Big sale! Great connection! This call could be a game changer! got a referral

Reaching for the phone your hand shakes, just a little, with anticipation. “Easy, big fella!” You tell yourself. You dial, you’re ready, you’re set!

Bob picks up the phone.

You say, “Bob, this is (your name here), from ABC Widgets! I just talked with Sally who told me that I should give you a call! Here I am! Sally says you need me!”

A pause…longer than expected. Bob replies, “You’re who? Sally? I don’t know any Sally? Why did she tell you to call me? Widgets? I don’t need any widgets, in fact, don’t use them at all!”

Therein is the rub. What you thought was a “referral” and potentially a big sale, ended up as a cold call, to a completely uninterested party.

Here are a couple of tips that can help!

Tip #1: BE COMPLETELY CLEAR

When asking for your friends, co-workers, business networking group member to keep their eyes open for referrals to you, be clear with what you want. Really clear. Really specific.

Recently, Tim a cable company rep, and Gold Star Club member, was visiting with Sue, another member. Sue explained she was having a hard time finding referrals for him since everyone – something like 94% – already used his company’s service. Tim said, “OMG! Those are the people I’d like be referred to should and if they need upgrades to their current service or faster internet!” Sue’s response was, “You never told us that!”

A referral, as used here, is when someone I care about – client, family, friend, etc., has a need for a product or service that you handle. After suggesting you, and I secure permission to have you to call, I call you and pass the information on. They have a need. They trust me. I trust you will do a great job because I already know, like and trust you. The likelihood they will use you, is high. Very high. The trust they have for me, will transfer to you.

A Realtor I met in another group, said that they’d like to be “referred” to any for-sale-by-owners that members drive by. “Take a photo of their sign and text it to me.” That, my friends, is a “cold-call” waiting to happen, not a referral.

It would be significantly clearer if the agent said: “If your neighbor is considering a move, and may even want to try it themselves for a while, simply ask if I could give them a quick call. I’ve helped numerous folks sell on their own, most list with me, however, some do sell. I can help no matter what!”

Tip #2: BE REFERABLE

The very best way to be referable, is to be a referrer. We teach folks that in order to get business, you’ve got to give business. You may have to be the one to step up and really listen for referral opportunities for others.

You’ve probably heard someone today muttering about a problem they’re having that possibly could have been helped by someone you already know.

If you do any business networking at all, you’ve probably seen this guy: He comes late to every gathering; forces cards on anyone within arms reach; cares little, if at all about anyone else; has the “gimmie, gimmie” attitude = you give to me, I take all I can get. Don’t be that guy!

Tip #3: BE RELIABLE

When that call of the day comes in, and your buddy tells you they have a referral for you, don’t wait to call them tomorrow! Or the next day! Or next week! Call them right this minute, depending on the hour of the day you get the call. (Personally, I try not to make or take calls after 8:00 PM.) If a late call referral comes in, and it is really too late to connect with them today, you better believe I’d be on the phone by 8:30 AM. Or it could be a very short call right then and get permission to call them at a specific time in the morning.

For a plumber, it might mean they have a busted pipe and REALLY need a call now. You’ll know that from your buddy.

Tip #4: BE REALISTIC

You may not be able to live, simply off the referrals you receive…yet. Don’t give up! I wrote an earlier article about not quitting a networking group before payday. Relationships take time to build and grow.

Jerry, my heat and air man, discussed what happened after he joined one of our Gold Star Clubs.

He said: “I’ve never done any business networking with a group before and was very skeptical. I was told by several people that referral groups were a good thing, so I jumped in with both feet. I joined Gold Star in last quarter of 2012, and I made $800.00. It was more than I would have made without the group! The following calendar year I made $8,000 since people got a chance to know me and my work. I was liking this more and more! My second calendar year (2014), I will have closed almost $70,000 in gross referral dollars from my club, and this summer wasn’t even that hot.”

Just a few tips: Be Clear, Be Referable, Be Reliable, and Be Realistic.

If growing your business by 20%, 30% or even 50%, you’d do well to put a few of these ideas to work for you right now.

It’s the right thing to do…Is it Effective?

You know you should, but do you? You know you can, so… why won’t you?

Listen Up: Business doesn’t stop when you’re ready to relax. Sometimes, you’ve got to keep on, keeping on, getting your business done.

Of course, you’ve got to have balance with your family, spouse, kids, grand kids, fishing, life and work! Sometimes, you’ve just got to let the pendulum swing in your favor.

Remember the old saying, “Strike while the iron is hot!” From the website www.Phrases.org:

THE Meaning:

Image

Act decisively and take your opportunities when they arise.

This old proverb clearly alludes to the imagery of the blacksmith or farrier at his forge. If he delays in shaping the iron when it is hot a pliable the metal soon cools and hardens and the opportunity is lost.

Sometimes, an “After Hours” type of event or other networking event simply must be attended. Sometimes the connections you meet could (hopefully) develop into deep strategic alliances to bring even more business to you and your company.

Here is the pitfall: You make those networking events, even those which aren’t producing results, the mainstay and primary focus of your personal efforts to grow your business.

I’m pretty sure you’ve heard it. “I go to 4 to 7 networking meetings every week! Man! I’m doing it!” If you asked if all that networking works, you might be surprised with an honest answer!

I know one guy that prides himself in the fact he attends 3-4 “business networking” meetings every day! Every day. He’s divorced, late 50’s – early 60’s, and broke most of the time. Seems that for him, business is never “good enough.

Do what works, and do it effectively.

If you could replace almost all of your “events” with one single networking group that actually wanted to give you referrals – qualified, ready to do business referrals – would you be interested? You’d be silly not to at least investigate!

Look around for exclusive industry groups, chapters or Clubs that have your industry’s slot open. Gold Star Clubs offer them. So do BNI, LeTip, some Chamber groups, etc. If there isn’t one available, you might need to consider starting your own. Again, Gold Star Clubs can help there, too.

Get more information here: http://bit.ly/1klBGoB

How do I know you? 4 Tips for Recommendations on LinkedIn – Basic Business Networking

I get it. Sort of.

We connected on LinkedIn a couple of weeks ago after you sent me an invitation. No worries.  I read your profile and at the time, it seemed like you and I could possibly develop a mutually beneficial relationship.Clueless

Then, WHAMO! Out of the blue, you send me a request for a business recommendation. As I had no contact information for you, my response was: “I don’t know you well enough to recommend you… Maybe after I know you better, I’d be happy to give you one.”

4 Tips for LinkedIn Basic Business Networking

1) Don’t ask for a recommendation from anyone you don’t really know. In fact, someone you know fairly well. Instead of asking for a recommendation out of the blue, consider asking for permission to get to know your connection better, first. Whether over a cup of coffee or a short visit to their office, find out about them, their business, their hobbies, their families, whatever is important to them.

Get the ball rolling with, “Hey Bill, we bumped into each other at the Chamber (Lion”s Club,  networking event or wherever).  Your business sounded very interesting. Can I ask, would you be open to meeting with me for 10 to 15 minutes, I’d like to learn more about it. And, to be sure, this is not a sales call.” If you’re hoping to develop a business customer, don’t try to sell anything at this “get to know you” meeting. It is, just that. Don’t have an agenda with the focus on you, make it all about them. Build the relationship.

2) Write your recommendation, first. No one responds faster to you than by sending them an unsolicited recommendation. I did this for my insurance man. I mentioned that he and his office were great, have done business with them for years, and would highly recommend him.

The recommendation I sent was late Friday afternoon, and by my first glance at email on Monday, there was his! Neither were asked for, both were highly appreciated. Of course, if you get one, don’t wait to send one back. Be honest. Be sincere. And above all, be able to stand by your recommendation because you actually know the individual. Endorsements on LinkedIn mean virtually nothing to sincere networking, since they are so easy to get. Push a button and “poof”, 4 endorsements done. Personally, I don’t endorse someone if I don’t know them, or for things I’m unsure they do, either.

3) Be polite, in all that you link in. I was a little short when asked for the unsolicited recommendation. That was many years ago, and I’ve learned a few things since. If you post on a blog, discussion or comment, thank the writer for sharing. Even if you don’t agree 100%, it was their idea to get the conversation started, so be respectful. “Thanks, Bill for your thought that went into this. If I could offer a slightly different…” and fill in your thoughts.

4) Thank everyone that comments. It’s all about engagement. The conversations. The relationships you build. If someone comments on anything you post…Thank them! “Bill, thanks for your thoughts and comments. They differ from mine, however, I appreciate you stepping in and being heard on the subject.”

If you haven’t already, please join my LinkedIn Group, The Art of Business Networking. Tips, techniques and strategies to help you connect, build, and get more business.

If you’re looking for a great referral group, check out: GoldStarClubs.com. If you’re looking for a group, can’t find one or your industry is locked out, please visit: http://bit.ly/gsreferrals and I’ll get you details about starting your own referral group! #goldstarclubs

 

Do business networking groups still work?

ABSOLUTELY! Especially now with the economy, it is an excellent time to be in a good referral group!

Ask the plumber in New Hampshire about increasing his business 500% because of a referral. Or the hotel marketing representative in Indiana that landed a $200K contract for the year because she was introduced to the right person by another member. Or the Chiropractor who tells that 60% of the business is made up of club referrals and the referrals of those referrals!

No matter how many connections you’ve made on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, you’ll get better quality business referrals by networking face to face, and a good group or club will tend to be more effective because of the consistent interaction, if you do it right.

There is no doubt, what you give is what you’ll receive. If you haven’t received referrals from your group, consider what you’ve given. When was the last time you gave a “quality referral” to another member (that wasn’t for you, personally)? A quality referral is someone that is in the market for the other person’s product or service; is willing to talk with them since you’ve made the recommendation; and is actually expecting their call.

If you don’t get referrals from your group…or community, ask yourself: Do they know you, like you, and trust you? That takes some serious soul searching. If you come late to the meetings, dress inappropriately, miss appointments, pull the “no-show, gosh I forgot” card, it could be that your “trust” factor is in the toilet. People may know you and maybe not like you very much, but will still do business with you if they trust you. Lose the trust, lose credibility, lose business. You’ve heard it: “They don’t care what you know, until they know that you care!”

When joining any networking group or club, you’ve got to also have the right attitude. It is not all about you and getting referrals. Others will pick up on that. Your heart for other members should be, “How can I help you get more business?” When they know you care about them, they will repay you many times over with quality referrals.

Groups and clubs work and take work. The rewards can be fantastic! Need help finding a group? I can help, or help you start your own! Please follow this link: http://bit.ly/gsreferrals for more details and information.

Have an excellent week!

http://www.welcometogoldstar.com

#goldstarclubs

It’s for you! However, is it for me? 5 Smart Phone Etiquette Tips

Ever been to a business event, interview or even on an appointment and have the person you’re with grab their phone as it rings and say to you, “Hold on a minute…” as they take the call?

Sure you have. I have.

5 Smart Phone Etiquette Tips

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1) Don’t do it! When in a meeting, business event, or on even an appointment, it’s easy! Turn your phone off or to silent. Don’t fool yourself! Even with the phone set to vibrate only, your phone will buzz you… beckon you… and probably whisper your name…and still make you want to take a “just quick peek” at who needs you.

2) Back away from the phone! I get it! You’ve just “got to be connected.” So take your phone out, and place it gently in your glove box, and go to your next meeting. I already hear you! “Goodness! What about my calendar?” Just in case of a follow-up appointment, lunch, or round of golf, take your phone with you…only after you put your phone on complete silent mode, and put it in your pocket or purse before leaving your vehicle.

3) What is the message you’re sending? When you pick up the phone during a meeting it discounts the person or people you’re with, telling them they are not that important. Think about how that makes you feel. Consider how it may make the other person feel if you are the one doing it to them!

4) Professional is as professional does! Professionals in any industry seem, well… to always be professional. Answering the phone during a meeting can, and does, alienate a potential client or prospect. It could result in a lost sale or worse, a lost relationship you hoped to build.

5) Emergencies happen! Of course they do. One method to handle an urgent call may be to say, “I apologize, this could be urgent and I’ve simply have to take it. Please excuse me.” Stand up, move away from the meeting – preferably out of earshot – speak quietly and make it short. Very short. Less than a minute.

Go forward my friends…and leave the phone alone.

If a picture is worth 1,000 words… 5 Tips To Get You Noticed

You heard the expression, a picture is worth a 1,000 words, right? That said, what does it say, loud and clear, if you don’t have one?

5 Tips to get yourself noticed!Todd and Mic

  1. Don’t be bashful. I get it. You don’t like your picture being taken. However, studies show that people want to know you before they give you business or refer business to you. A written bio only tells a little part of your story. A good photo acts like icing on a cake for your bio.
  2. Be professional. I can tell, you went on vacation and have some great pictures. Cropping your photo at the shoulders, where obviously you had your arms around a couple of friends on either side, might not say a lot for the way you might do business in a professional setting. (Even worse, part of your friend is still in your photo.) Have a friend take a clear picture of you with your cell phone against a relatively neutral background. Upload and use that, or hire a professional photographer.
  3. Dress like you mean it. Sure a faded tee shirt and ripped jeans may be what you wear to work these days. However, dressing as if you’re on the way to meet an important client carries a lot of weight.
  4. Be authentic. Be yourself. Remember, the photo is meant to represent you to the business public. Men: if you normally shave, be clean shaven. If you wear a beard or facial hair, give it a trim before your photo. Women: Wear whatever make-up you feel is appropriate, and again, wear a relatively conservative blouse or dress.
  5. In general: Men: If you would never ever wear a tie for business, consider wearing one just for the picture. Even if you choose not to wear a tie, definitely wear a collared shirt, and I strongly suggest a sports coat. Women: In the past, “Glamour” shots were the rage. They aren’t now. Conservative will win over “nightclub” attire every time.

In our business networking meetings at Gold Star Clubs, we encourage the members to dress “as if.” As if, they’ll meet a fantastic connection that could be a strategic alliance to gain more business for their business. As if, they could leave the meeting and go on an impromptu meet and greet with a lucrative prospect. As if, they could sit down with the president of a major company without having to run home and change…first.

If you’d like more information about joining a Gold Star Club, or starting your own Club, please follow this link http://bit.ly/gsreferrals and I’ll connect with you with more details. #goldstarclubs

Many thanks!

The Networking Fool

3 Tips for a Prosperous Social Media New Year!

‘Twas the night before…business?

My LinkedIN account all snug and tucked into bed.

Facebook just connected with some guy named, Fred.

Twitter was glowing by the followers it had, Pinterest great pictures, no need to be sad.

Google Plus was no fuss since +1 (plus one), I just can’t stop reading and get some work done! Bloggers were here, helpful tips there, Oh my, I just want be everywhere!

But reading I do, on through the night. My brain cells are running just a little bit tight. My tablet stays on, almost till dawn; I try to stay up with technology just begun. It’s new, it’s new, and it’s the greatest next thing! I can’t pull my eyes away, tho they’re starting to sting!

On to the tips, that will be a great hit. Please share if you care with those so remiss.

3 Tips – Don’t let your profiles slip:

 1) Make a list and check it twice, for all your social and business networking sites.

  • Sometimes the most obscure site has the worst information, and could cost you a client or potential retention.
  • Where do you blog, post or interact? Make sure all of them have the straight fact.
  • Don’t confuse your next great client by having 10 sites with different slogans, photos, and profile. Let them know what to expect everywhere you are.

2) Is your message congruent with what you are fluent?

  • Have you read your website recently? Seriously! Do you still do what it says?
  • Do all your sites have a similar message?
  • Do your links all still work…Have you checked?
  • Is the phone number correct? (Silly thing, but it happens!)

3) Is your photo relatively recent or just caught in the current?

  • Ever see a “glamour shot” photo, only to meet the person and you didn’t recognize them? That’s pretty harsh. One photo, wow! The next photo, kapow!  (This happened to me meeting a Realtor one day. I saw the woman and said, “You’re who?” I know that it’s true. Just don’t be the one to let it happen to you.)
  • Men: If your profile photo shows you with a full head of hair or a bread, and you’re now bald and shaved; or if your hair used to be brown and grey now shines through, please update your photo, and make it really you.
  • Is your current photo the same on all your sites? Without a common thread, it would be like having three logos for the same company.

With that, I say, among all this chatter, Happy New Year to all, and profiles do matter!

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