Sometimes it's quite obvious, sometimes it's not ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 23/09/2015 @ 8:00AM
Many people don't like networking groups where there is an expectation that they will bring referrals for other members. When I question them further, often the fear is that they will not be able to find referrals ...
If this is you, you need to take the pressure off yourself!
Spotting referrals for other people is easy if they have taught you what to look for. Sounds obvious doesn't it? Yet an awful lot of business opportunities go by because people never tell their contacts what to look for or what to do next. They just assume they know.
"I had a recent experience of this myself!"
One of my clients is Emma Williams, from Phoenix Training based in Wellingborough. She offers industrial training for staff in logistics and manufacturing companies. As part of an exercise in how to brief your network, I asked her "what would I watch out for, or notice that would indicate that someone needed your services?"
The prompt answer was "a forklift truck in the yard!" Do you know, I felt really silly, but that had never occurred to me. But why not? To me, fork lift trucks are just part of the scenery in those types of companies and not the reason I'm visiting so I never pay them any attention. After all, I'm there to talk to the MD about marketing.
Having a forklift truck doesn't mean that a company is looking for forklift truck training. However, it does mean that when I'm talking to the MD I can ask ''who does your forklift truck training?'' and that might lead into a conversation where I could introduce Emma.
It also led to Emma explaining that there was a whole range of moving equipment where people need training. Companies that use machines like pallet movers, scissor lifts, cherry pickers are all of interest to her.
She also educated me further to notice if people weren't using them properly and the consequences. This Youtube clip made us laugh, but probably didn't get that reaction in the companies involved.
We then went on further to discuss what else I could find out that might lead to Emma getting work there. Attitudes towards Health and Safety and staff training generally, and even the cost of their insurance premiums.
"It is fair to say that some referrals are harder to spot than others!"
An observation in networking groups is that people with simple straightforward services, where it is easy to identify the need, get the most referrals. Others, particularly consulting services, are harder.
Take my own services for example; referral marketing. Let's imagine that I found an opportunity for Emma (I haven't yet, but it will happen now I know what to look for) and she wants to reciprocate. What can she look out for? My clients don't have an equivalent of a fork lift truck in their yard. So what do I want Emma to notice?
Well, she networks, and people who need my services network too. So I can ask her to look out for a particular type of person she'll meet when attending networking and other events.
Consultants, trainers and business support companies who, as a small company, want to work with larger companies. As a business owner talking to other business owners, it would be a natural question for Emma to ask them "how do you get your best clients?" Then, if they say by referrals (they usually do), she can follow up by asking more questions about how they do that and how successful they find networking.
Answering with negative remarks, frustrations and particularly complaints on how difficult it is to network with larger companies can open up the opportunity for her to suggest they talk to me.
Now how about you? Don't assume that others in your network know how to spot your clients. As always, you need to give first. In your next one-to-one meeting, ask them for some simple clues you can look for that will help you spot an opportunity for them and what further questions you could ask to introduce them.
A great tip, if you know them well already, is to ask them what they would look for to spot an opportunity for you. Chances are they haven't got a clear picture of what to look for! So have your brief ready to share with them too.
If you'd like to talk to me about referrals and how you can get more of them, call me on 07970 638857 or click here to get in touch by email and let's arrange an informal chat and see how I can help you.
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