Posted on: July 23, 2018
Many business people work hard to build a strong network of contacts. One driver for all that time and effort is to encourage their contacts to recommend them to others and send new work opportunities their way.
Yes give, but also…
To achieve this goal, most business people know that firstly they have to find ways to add value and support their network contacts. Giving in order to receive is indeed a key aspect of successful networking and many networking books go into detail about how to do this.
There is, however, another element of the process which often gets ignored and stops business people referring business to each other. Yes you should indeed give in order to receive and focus on adding relevant value to your network contacts but (and it’s a big but), if they don’t really understand what it is you do, they’re going to find it hard to send leads your way.
It is often a lack of knowledge that prevents valuable leads and introductions being passed from one business contact to another.
Whilst we may recognise that our contact is an accountant, a lawyer, a consultant, an IT specialist etc we would probably struggle to name the specific issues they tackle for their clients on a daily basis.
Now, if we knew what those issues were and we understood roughly what results our contact has been achieving for his/her clients in tackling them, we’d be able to spot other contacts facing those issues and put them in touch.
So a nifty way to get your contacts to recommend you is to educate them on the issues you tackle. This isn’t about giving them a list or your services, or worse still your company brochure. It’s about sharing with them the specific challenges and opportunities your clients come to you with and then guiding them on the results you typically bring in resolving those.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to do a big ‘sell’ here (and to be honest you will put your contacts off if you try). You can instead subtly broaden perceptions and educate your contacts in your conversations and interactions with them.
- When they ask you how things are, avoid just saying ‘busy’. Instead talk about a recent case or client issue you’ve been working on and the positive outcome for the client.
- Over a period of time send them individual case studies or ‘lessons to learn’ fact-sheets, which talk through a particular issue you or your business solved for a client.
- Flag key business challenges you excel in tackling and share some tips on how to resolve them. From time to time send these through as handy 1 page guides, which can be kept for reference or passed on to your contact’s contacts.
- Alert contacts to any legislative or other business-related changes which may affect their contacts’ businesses. Even better, put a user-friendly, plain English synopsis together for them to pass on.
- Be more vocal in celebrating client successes you’ve supported, if it’s appropriate to do so.
- Over a coffee or lunch, talk your contact through the key triggers they could spot in their line of work which point to your expertise.
How well do you know your contact?
Finally, and going back to the reciprocity point again, do make sure you’re as educated about your contact as you hope they are about you.
Ensure you know what they do exactly and what triggers point to their expertise. If you can send good quality opportunities their way, they will want to return the favour.
Ensuring this recommendation is the start of many
Also, do ensure you do a good job of any referrals that come your way. Let your contact down at all and you can kiss goodbye to future introductions from them. To avoid this happening, see our post – How to get repeat referrals from clients and contacts – for some handy do’s and don’ts.
For more business development and marketing tips, contact the Extended Thinking team on tel. 01483 429111.