Referral Marketing: How I Connect People
And why I take great pleasure in it ...
POSTED BY JACKY SHERMAN ON 13/04/2016 @ 8:00AM
I'm not particularly artistic as anyone who has seen me draw on the flip chart in a workshop will attest. However, I am creative in the sense that I love making new connections that result in something new ...
Just like the synapses of the brain loves making new connections, I love to use my creative referral marketing talents to connect people!
copyright: ilexx / 123rf stock photo
One of the networking activities I'm addicted to is connecting people with people who can help each other. I get as much pleasure out of spotting the potential for them both as the actual outcome.
When suggesting useful people I can introduce, I have often been asked, "how do you do that?" from novice networkers and "how did you know those people could help each other?" I have struggled to answer this because it just seems to happen I do it without actually thinking about how.
So this week I thought I'd analyse what I actually do:
Be in the right mind set
Connections are as valuable as direct referrals for business. To start with I should say that when I started networking, I didn't even think about this type of giving. I was hooked into finding direct business referrals for people; after all, that is what people go networking for isn't it?
Seeing the value of connecting took me time and was partly through watching other successful networkers and partly through my own reading and education when I first worked with the Referral Institute as a client.
There are always people I network with where finding a direct referral for business is difficult. Even when they've given me good information, I just don't know the sorts of people they want as clients. I would have to go to a lot of effort to find them and the referral would probably be low quality.
When I thought about it, the best thing I could do for these people is identify others in my network who do know lots of the sort of people with a need for their services.
What was more valuable to them, my weak referral or meeting someone who could easily refer them lots of clients?
Build a wide-ranging and diverse network
Even with me willing and motivated to connect people I found it hard until I had built up a wide-ranging and diverse network. I came into the commercial world after a career in the NHS and I just didn't know many people in business.
Now after 13 years of networking, I know a whole range of people engaged in all types of business, and it has become easy to find relevant connections for people.
Have a conversation with them
Most people I connect after I have had a proper conversation with them. This isn't terribly formal, in fact, I find the relevant information and the connection is more likely to come out when we're having a chat over coffee.
The more I listen to someone the more I learn about them, their business, their clients, their aspirations and outside interests. A whole range of information comes out. I usually find that it is one or two words in all that information that sparks the connection. It may be direct business related, but equally it may be something else they say as a 'by the way' remark. The key is to let them talk around all sorts of different subjects whilst my mind is open and willing to make connections.
For instance, one person mentioned horse racing venues when talking about her event clients, which made me think of Towcester Race Course where I go networking. Another talked about his passion for steam engines. Nothing to do with his job, which reminded me of someone talking about their client who also has that passion.
Focus on them as fellow networkers
This is where the networking mantra 'don't sell to the room' comes in. If, while they are talking, I'm thinking about how I can sell to them then I will focus on the wrong pieces of information.
I'll be tuned into identifying their needs for my services instead of who they want to meet. Not what we were after at all.
Have more than one conversation
I do connect people from that initial conversation; however, deeper, better and often more obscure connections come when we have met more than once. I am continually building a picture of that person every time we talk.
Meeting and communicating regularly means they stay front of my mind so I am more likely to think of them when going through the same exercise with someone else and spot the opportunities to put the right people together. Now that's real networking!
Follow up with both parties
I'll be honest this isn't always my strong point. I make a lot of connections with people on the periphery of my network where I don't follow up formally. However for people in my close network I will follow up how it went and what the outcome was and I find they tend to report back to me without being asked.
Whether the connection was a success or not, knowing the outcome stimulates me to make further better connections for that person. Also a thank you is always appreciated.
Do you actively look for great connections for others in your network? Leave me a comment and share your story of a great connection that made a difference to you. Maybe you connected two other people and their relationship flourished? I'd love to know.
Until next time ...
More about Jacky Sherman ...
I help people build and maintain productive working relationships both with their work colleagues and with a wider network to win more business. I do this by combining my skills in coaching, mediation and training with my extensive experience in senior management.
What I love most about my work is when my clients get those a-ha moments because I know they have seen for themselves the way that they want to move forward. Then they will achieve their ambitions.
Helping people who are having challenges with their working relationships gives me enormous pleasure. It was my privilege when working in health care to see how people working together can make the impossible seem easy and accomplish miracles as a result.
So helping people build or restore strong relationship with their colleagues makes even the hardest work easier, alleviates distress for the individual and reduces problems for the whole organisation.
In all this work trust is an essential ingredient to winning business so most of my work comes through referrals. Referrals come through strong business relationships so it was a natural extension for me to work with Ascentiv and train others in how to get consistent and predictable referrals from their network.
What a fantastic way to earn a living!