March 18, 2010
Today, as I opened my Skype window to "check in with my Skype buddies" and see what has been happening over the weekend, I found this message waiting for me.
"Hi Carol, I am from website design and development company based in India. As you arrange public conference so you must interacted with the people of same field. I am looking for business opportunities, can I get references from you."
My response was: I'm sorry I am not able to provide any references for anyone that I have not done work with. You see, I'm a networking coach and I do believe in helping others achieve their goals but before any business is referred to anyone, a relationship must be built. You must get to know, like and trust the person you are referring and you must also be willing to take care of the person you are making that referral to.
One of the reasons why I opened this Skype Room was to give people the opportunity to interact with one another, to learn more about each other, personally and professionally. Learn how the other person does their work, find out what their work ethics are and generally get to know one another.
My network is important to me- I will not jeopardize the relationships I built my referring someone to any of them without knowing (1) if my network contact even needs their service (2) would be willing to talk with a new vendor (3) or is in the position of being able to pay for the services that are being offered. On the other hand, for the vendor that is referred, I want to know that they are ethical, going to do what they say they are going to do, when they say they are going to do it and not be pushy with my network. The only way I can make sure that happens is to take TIME to get to know the people I am referring. Nothing should be rushed; it's not a "nice to meet you and now buy from me" situation. That's no better than running around a networking event just handing out your business cards and saying buy from me. I just won't do that and I won't apologize to anyone for not doing that.
I would be totally out of line to refer a new vendor to anyone in my network just because the new vendor told me they want more business. You know, the whole world wants more business. Networking is a tremendous way to get new business, but you do need to know the proper way to do that. Networking is work- you have to "work" at it - the rewards often are tremendous, but it does take time. Just because you want something, does that mean you are going to get it? Of course not, work at developing those relationships. You may be pleasantly surprised how much you receive by doing this but don't be alarmed at the amount of time you have to spend networking to get these results. It's not instantaneous gratification! A good point to remember is that what is most important to YOU, may be of no importance at all to THEM - the tune you should be listening to is WIIFT (what's in it for THEM) not WIIFY (what's in it for YOU).
"Thanks Carol, I will try my level best to become a member of your network and you will certainly get to know more about me if you look at this website [website link]"
Apparently my message wasn't quite clear enough, because this new person wants to send me to their website to learn more about them. What happens at the website is that I find out about the business, but what does that tell me about the person? People do business with people, not businesses. That's why it is important to make sure people understand you and how you work - how you take care of your clients, what makes you stand out from the competition? Why should I do business with you? How are you going to solve my problem(s)?
"Can I join your public chat?" Yes, you may join my public chat and yes, I would like to get to know more about you. Just remember, it takes time - share some tips, chat with the members of the chat room and get to know them. It's ok to share your website on promo day (read the blue guidelines to find out what days that is permitted) but generally participate in conversations! I welcome anyone to come and join in the conversations in the Skype Room - you can find it very easily at http://www.runlancaster.com/skype-room/networking or you may request to connect with me via Skype and I can manually add you into the room.
Please do yourself a favor and don't ask someone you just meet to refer business to you. Take the time to build the relationship - it will be much better for both of you to know the type of relationship you are part of - knowing that the other person is looking out for your best interest as well as for the referring party's best interest.
"When do I get to talk about me - doesn't the person I'm meeting want to know what I do?" I just read a blog post from Michael Port, who has an audio that tells you better than I can how to do this. Listen here
I'd love to hear your thoughts and comments on this topic - please post them in the comments section below! If you really like this post, and want to Tweet about it, I'd really appreciate that too!
Carol Deckert is a Networking Coach and the Netweaving Expert for Group Coaching Mastery. She's the founder of Referrals Unlimited Network, has more than 8,500 first-level connections in LinkedIn and approximately 1,000 "friends" on FaceBook and more than 4,000 followers on Twitter! Carol knows you do need the numbers before you can accumulate quality connections, because not every connection will be a good one for you. Through her netweaving work, she helps others learn to do what she did, save them lots of time and heartache, by teaching them how to network efficiently and effectively. Contact Carol on Skype: Deckert1116
November 11, 2009
Turning to your current and/or past clients for their referral business is not only a smart and practical way to build your business, it's EASY! We all know it costs more to obtain new clients than to maintain current or past clients. Make a commitment to keep in touch with them often - tell them what's happening with your business and ASK for their help. People love to be needed!
1. Look at your clients not as a one-time sale, but as a budding friendship.
Friends help friends. Share your stories with each other - develop those important relationships.
2. Ask for them!
I know, that's an obvious statement, but so many people are afraid to simply ask. Why not try this ? Contact one of your clients/customers today and simply ask - "Of all the people in your office (or of all of your closest friends) which person do you think would be the most interested in the product/service I offer?" What's the worst that can happen - you certainly cannot be killed for asking!
3. Begin at the beginning.
Instead of waiting later in a client/customer relationship to ASK for referral support….(which for some can be uncomfortable) begin TELLING your prospects/new clients at the very beginning that receiving referral support from your clients is HOW you do business. Always tell your prospects what they can expect from you during your relationship, and in turn, what you will expect from them.
4. Practice makes perfect!
The more you do, the better you become at what you do or know, the more confident you naturally come off to others. Creating more confidence for THEM to easily refer you to the people in their life as "The only ONE to go to."
5. Shift the burden.
Many business owners are afraid that asking for referrals from their customers/clients puts an unwanted burden on them. (They feel embarrassed or ashamed to ask for 'help.') So, shift your belief or understanding. When you ask your clients to refer their friends or colleagues to you, YOU (once again) are HELPING MORE PEOPLE. (The burden stays on you and off of them!) People LOVE to help others (generally) so why not make them feel special, and ASK for their help?
6. Create an exclusive experience!
Create an experience for your customers/clients that feels (and is) exclusively just for them. How you do business should definitely stand out (and apart) from your competition. It doesn't have to be a lot. Keep it simple - yet clearly beneficial to your clients/customers.
7. Clearly express yourself!
Let your clients know ALL that you do. Most will think the only thing you do or offer is what they get from you. Explain through stories, examples, and other offers the FULL RANGE of what you are able to offer. Don't drown them in details, it's better to explain all the products and services you offer, one at a time.
8. Think Long-Term Relationship - not just WIIFM!
Let your clients/customers know you are interested in serving them for the long haul. Sometimes it won't occur to a client/customer to return to you for your product or service. Let them know you would like to serve them as long as they need the product or service you are exchanging with them.
9 . K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Specific
People love easy and simple (isn't that why you are reading this top ten?). Whatever your product or service, make the experience of working with you as easy and simple for your customer/client as possible. Be specific in what you are offering or in what you are looking for!
10. Tell your clients just how important their referral support is to your success.
People love to know when they are doing good and when they have been a key player in something successful. Be sure to thank them, thank them often, keep in touch with them, find out what's important to them and to their business and see if you can offer a solution to them!
What other ways are you using to increase the number of referrals you receive? Tell me about them in the comment section below!
To Your Networking Success!
Carol Deckert is a Networking Coach and the Netweaving Expert for Group Mastery. She's the founder of Referrals Unlimited Network, has more than 6,700 first-level connections in LinkedIn and approximately 1,800 “friends” on FaceBook and more than 3,000 followers on Twitter! Carol knows you do need the numbers before you can accumulate quality connections, because not every connection will be a good one for you. Through her netweaving work, she helps others learn to do what she did, save them lots of time and heartache, by teaching them how to network efficiently and effectively. Contact Carol on Skype: Deckert1116