Referral Marketing is simple, not necessarily easy. Here are 5 easy referral strategies to boost your business. These steps do require skill and strategy – which will improve with consistently working each of these 5 steps. By doing that, you will find your referral business dramatically increase; you will get better clients and better connections; and you will enjoy your business at a deeper level because of the quality relationships you’ve developed.
- Find your best referral sources
- Have more effective one-to-ones
- Make strategic introductions
- Network with the right people
- Network like a pro
Find You Best Referral Sources
Most business professionals understand that referrals can come from many different directions, and rely on referrals predominantly from their clients. What if I told you there was an even better referral source? Yes, clients are a great source, AND when you find a great referral source, one great referral source can produce the referrals of 10 or even 100 client referrals. Clients may refer sporadically, or even not at all. A true referral source might refer you several times a year, month, or even several times a week! So finding your best referral sources can be a windfall of business to you!
Finding those best referral sources might not be as easy as you hoped. There are some key things to look for and consider to find the right sources for you.
The first criteria of a great referral source is that you like them as a person. When you find the right referral source, it has the potential to be a long-term relationship. You want to look forward to the time you will spend with that person, so liking them is important.
Your best referral source will be a professional in your Contact Sphere. A contact sphere professional is someone whose business is complementary to yours and not competing. When their client needs their services they also need yours, and vice versa. This is the key to why contact sphere professionals are our best source of referrals, they are in front of our ideal clients on a regular basis, having a similar conversation, and can make for an easy referral.
The third key to finding your best referral source is to be able to have a mutually beneficial relationship. Being able to give as well as receive will make it so much easier to sustain the relationship over the long term. If the relationship is one way, it’s not likely to continue very long.
More Effective One-to-Ones
One-to-ones are a key tool to build referral source relationships. You may need to do many one-to-ones, to find those very best referral sources.
For clarification, let’s first talk about what a one-to-one is. It’s simply a face to face meeting between two business professionals for building a relationship and building business. It’s where you get together, one-to-one, so you can get to know each other and how you could help each other in your businesses. What it is not, is a sales presentation. The purpose is relationship building, not sales. If you would like to meet with that person to potentially become their client, let them know you’d like to set an appointment with them for that reason, so both of you are clear about the purpose of the meeting.
Don’t assume the other person knows how to do a one-to-one. Because relationship building is in a way vague, there are many interpretations on how to go about doing a one-to-one. In fact, there are many strategies and many options to go about building that relationship. Don’t be afraid to take the lead and make sure the conversation goes in the direction you want it to and you get to cover the questions you really want answered.
Especially for the first one-to-one, it’s important to hold your appointment. Be early and be prepared. This is your first impression, and as they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If you flake or reschedule three times, or are late and disheveled, this is the impression you are giving to that business professional, and it’s hard to recover from. They are going to make assumptions about how you run your business and how you treat people based on how you conduct yourself in this first one to one.
Once you have had time to get to know each other and it looks like a good business connection for both of you, plan on doing multiple one-to-ones. A great way to approach these subsequent one-to-ones is to think, what do you need to know about their business so you can better refer them? Remember relationship marketing and referrals is based on the law of reciprocity. Give first.
Strategic introductions are a powerful, powerful tool. In this age where more and more connections are happening online and thousands of emails hit our inbox daily, an electronic introduction or connection doesn’t always get the traction or priority we hope for.
Personally introducing people face to face cuts through the barrage of electronic communication and you make a human, more powerful connection.
What makes a personal introduction even more powerful, is how you set up. How well were the connections set up to understand the relevancy and why they should meet? When the introducer has a good relationship with the two people they want to introduce, it carries a lot of weight and is more certain to happen.
Getting face to face with a potential referral source or ideal client can save so much time and effort; is a more fun and enjoyable way to meet; and produces more tangible results.
Network with the Right People
I see some business professionals spend a lot of time at many different networking events. I see other business professionals join one small group and do nothing else in the way of networking.
Because it takes some time to get to know people and build the relationships, sometimes it’s hard to tell if where you are networking in the right place.
Whether you join one group or many, it can all be a waste of time if you’re not networking with the right people. You want to be networking with referral sources and people who have the right connections to give you the strategic introductions and referrals you really want.
You want to look for people who have a commitment to their own business and a desire to help the other people in the group. Avoid people who are only there to see what they can get. Finding people with a giving mindset is essential to networking success.
Look for more mature business professionals who have a strong base of clientele and a well-built sphere of influence. You need to connect with people who know people and can make valuable introductions and referrals. If they are new in town or only have been in business for a short period of time they are very unlikely to have the connections and influence to be able to help you.
Network Like a Pro
Have you ever been to a networking event and felt you met some desperate business people? These people are madly passing out their business cards, talking all about their product or service, and seem like the infamous pushy salesperson.
And then, in the next corner are the people who seem completely indifferent and only talk to the same one or two people they huddle next to for the entire event.
Navigating the rugged terrain of a networking event can be challenging if you don’t have a roadmap.
Here’s a definition I like to use in understanding the real gold in networking:
Networking is the process of building and activating relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve the community. It’s about helping others as a way of growing your business, all built on genuine relationships.
Start with making connections and building relationships. Ask questions to get to know the people you meet personally as well as professionally. Be interested in them and see how you could potentially help them.
There are many techniques to making this an easy process including funneling conversations, networking strategically with a buddy, and even some fun networking games.
If you meet someone that you would like to get to know better, schedule a one-to-one with them. Most people you meet at a networking event would be happy to meet with you outside the networking event so they can get to know you too. That’s when you will find out who they really are, what they do, and if they are someone with whom you will want to build a longer term referral relationship.
I hope you take this information to heart, and more importantly, implement it in your business. Here are some suggested action items:
- Create a list of your best potential Referral Sources. I call this your Referral Team. Start with the 4 people who have given you the most referrals in the last 6 months. Then continue listing the rest of the people on your team to build a list of 12 solid referral relationships.
- Next, call everyone on your list and set a time to meet with them one-to-one. Then list the questions you want to ask each individual. You want to customize your list based on the level of your relationship and what you do and do not know about their business.
- Listen and ask for opportunities to strategically introduce your Referral Team to the people you know can benefit them. This could be a potential client or another referral source, or someone influential with the type of people they want to know. After you have done this for them (give first), then ask them for a strategic introduction that will benefit you.
- Evaluate your networks. Don’t assume you know who people know. Ask better questions to find out if the people you are networking with on a regular basis have the right connections for you. Build the relationships and see how you can help them first before asking for those connections. It helps if you know specifically the types of people and professions that are most beneficial to you and your business.
- Focus your networking conversations around building relationships. Get to know the people you are networking with, personally as well as professionally to give the relationships true meaning. With those deeper relationships, you will enjoy your interaction and people will be more driven to help you and you to help them.
If you would like some insight on your Referral Team and what specific conversations will take that referral relationship from an acquaintance to an advocate, or how to really evaluate if you are networking with the right people, set up a complimentary Referral Strategy Session with Maile today.