Quit fooling around with your business networking!

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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.

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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

 

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