If you want to be successful at referral marketing, surround yourself with people who know your ideal clients. The best place to start is with the people you already know ...
When I get a new client, one of the first things I ask them to do is look at their network and identify people who may be able to help them and then re-establish contact with those they have not spoken to in a long time.
How on earth can you call someone up after a period of time now you're after something? Usually, when I ask this, the first thought my clients have is how they would feel if someone called them up out of the blue after a long time. They imagine something along the lines of, "What a cheek after all these years! They must be after something".
Is that really how you would feel? Chances are, when answering that question, a negative experience comes to mind. At worst you're thinking this was someone you were glad to get out of your life; at best someone who you really liked, but somehow life got the way and you feel guilty about not staying in touch.
What about positive experiences? One client remarked on a good friend who, even when they haven't talked for a year, they know they can pick up the conversation as if it was yesterday. How about bumping into someone you haven't seen for ages at a party?
The degree of comfort in making the call and how you set it up, depends on the strength of the relationship, the reason for losing contact in the first place and how you make the new approach.
Here are some questions to ask to get you going:
- What are you trying to achieve? In the first instance, it is best just to warm up the relationship. Don't pounce and rush into a big ask.
- Who might be willing and able to help you? Start with the people where you had the strongest relationship and you'd be happy to mix with again and work your way through to those you knew more superficially. Now, check how they can potentially help. Remember life has moved on for them too. A colleague from 5 years ago may have been promoted or made redundant.
There is absolutely no point in trying to get help from someone you didn't like or trust, even if you believe they have all the right contacts for you. The chances are they felt the same about you and will react negatively to an approach.
- What's in it for them? From the start always, always think what can you do for them as giving is the best way to re-establish the relationship. If you launch straight into what you want you are likely to get the frosty reply. They will think, "What a cheek after all these years!" If possible, make contact with a genuine something for them, no matter how small.
Social media is excellent for doing the research if they use it. As are people you have in common. Who do you know who is still in contact or more up to date on the gossip?
- How will you get back in touch? You can get in touch directly or indirectly.
A direct approach is best and a phone call is better than an email or social media message. What should you say? Ah ... that's the one thing that stops us making the call. How on earth do you get the conversation off the ground?
Acknowledge the length of time since you were in contact and give the real reason for losing touch. There is no point ignoring the time-lapse as they won't. It's worth preparing this opener to keep it tactful, don't imply they just weren't important enough. It's worth remembering that they have been equally distracted and not stayed in touch either.
Get to the point. Resist the temptation to go into a long monologue about what you've been doing. If they are interested, they will ask. Remember what you want is to get them back into your active network. Ideally, have something specific that might be useful to them.
If you don't have anything specific in mind then explain that you are building your business at present and have many contacts in XXX industries and are contacting people you know with a view to helping each other access more of these types of companies.
Here's the most powerful phrase you can use when getting in touch with someone again, "And so I thought of you" It keeps the conversation firmly pointed at what's useful to them as well as you.
Where ever possible, finish the conversation with an agreement to do something together. Meet up, contact other people, send information or whatever seems appropriate.
It may be that your relationship was always tenuous and you feel a direct approach might be too strong as a first stage. So, have a strategy to get in contact again indirectly.
Start going to the places they go to. No, I don't mean stalk them down the gym or wherever they take their dog for a walk, or in their favourite restaurant. This is where your research pays dividends. Your most reliable source of information is other people who know you both and who might help with more information to bring the two of you together.
Even more indirectly where do they network? What events do they attend, groups they belong to, both in-person and online? Why not go along and contribute too? As an added benefit, this will introduce you to a whole host of other people who share that interest and widen your network generally with new people who may become good contacts for both of you.
Lo and behold, you're increasingly being surrounded by the right people to help you and you will be increasingly seen as the person to know in your area of business. As a result, you are likely to stay in touch with more of the right people and they are more likely to make an effort to keep in touch with you too.
Who do you know that you haven't spoken to for a while? How about giving them a call.
If you'd like to learn more about referral marketing then do give me a call on 07970 638857 and let's have a chat and see how I can help you.