Paying it forward

Networking is one of the most powerful ways to generate business.  Think about your own business, how many of your clients or customers have been recommended by someone you’ve met through networking?

You might be surprised.  I did this just recently and ALL my clients have been referred to me by someone else.  Some have come from people I network with who have got to know me over time and some from recommendations from online networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.  A few have come from referrals from existing clients, but not a single one of my clients has found me by a Google search or looking in a directory.

Polish your networking strategy

It’s easy to get into a comfortable slot when you attend networking meetings – most people know you it’s tempting to assume that everyone knows what you do, but that’s not a good strategy.

We all have core services or products – but when you attend a networking group regularly it’s an opportunity to educate the others in the group about some of the services that they may not realise you offer – or a product that they don’t immediately associate with your business.

The more people know about your business, the more likely they are to make good referrals.

Teach people the triggers to listen for

When you’re in conversation the connections are often made to refer someone when you hear a phrase that you associate with someone in your network.  That’s why it’s not helpful when asked “Who would make a good referral for you?” to say “Anybody who needs what I offer.”

However, if you often talk about people who complain about sitting at the kitchen table for hours on the computer and your business is – office chairs or massage therapy or postural assessments – when anyone in your network who happens to hear someone complaining about the discomfort of working from home is likely to join up the dots and refer you!

What are the words that you want your network to listen for?  Make sure you include them in your 45 seconds.

Pain and gain

People respond to two motivators – away from or towards.  Pain is powerful, so you need to be clear about the problems that you can solve.  However, it’s also important to create a picture of the benefits too.

The secret of a good benefit is that it features a result or outcome that the recipient really appreciates.  Ideally, it should be something that is measurable too. 

A new website … that attracts enquiries

Promotional gifts … that have resulted in a new order

Insurance … that saved £200 a year and included better cover

You get the idea.

Everyone loves a story

Not only do people like a good story – but they remember stories better than generic facts.  Tell a good story and people will remember and connect you up with anyone who sounds like they may be experiencing a similar situation.

Think of it as a mini case study.  Stick to the formula – Problem, Solution, Outcome.  For example:

  • You know how people have [this problem]?
  • To help them solve it we [what you do or offer]
  • Which means they [outcome they get].

If this sounds like a lot of work, it really isn’t as hard as you think.  Just think about your current and previous customers.  What was their problem?  How did you solve it?  What did they get as results?  We all have case studies right under our noses.

What education do you need to share to help people to refer you to others?

And, remember, ‘What goes around, comes around’ – or as Zig Ziglar once said:

You can everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people to get what they want. This called paying it forward.

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