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Jacky Sherman

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The Best Way To Get More Sales Leads

Is to co-operate with others ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 05/06/2024 @ 8:00AM

Getting referrals means networking with a real strategy. So you've followed the basics and your message is finely honed and everyone in your network circles knows who you want to meet ...

When you're out business networking, does being a cooperator or a defector get more sales leads for you?

When you're out business networking, does being a cooperator or a defector get more sales leads for you?


You've given loads of referrals to all sorts of people, you join in and help the group to function and go to all the social events. And still the referrals don't happen! Chances are there are three reasons for this:

  1. Your service is hard to refer,

  2. People in your network group just don't know the sorts of people you want to meet,

  3. It's all down to human nature and how we operate in groups.

And it's that last point I want to talk about this week.

People operate one of 3 strategies when interacting with others. (Robert Axelrod the Evolution of Cooperation). They are:

  1. To always co-operate,

  2. To always defect,

  3. To co-operate until you defect and then defect (tactical co-operators).

Mathematically, the third strategy produces the best return. What Axelrod called 'tit-for-tat'. Only co-operate if the other does the same. Martin Nowak (another mathematician) added some extra dimensions in his research called 'indirect co-operation'. This is where I help you when you've not helped me directly. This works when I know from your reputation that you help others so I will help you. Or we're part of the same in-group so implicitly if the group says you're OK then I'll help you.

These social strategies are dynamic, which means they change over time depending on the composition of the group and the strategies employed by individuals.

Let's look at how this might play out in a networking group that meets with an intention that members pass business to each other.

Always co-operate

An individual who always co-operates - no matter what - will attract and may even unwittingly encourage defector behaviours. If you get referrals without having to do anything other than say thank you and move on, would you? Maybe not consciously, but if their services were complicated and difficult to refer then many people won't try too hard. Ever had someone stand up in a network group saying how wonderful you are, but somehow they never refer to you?

A very interesting point in this which gave me an "aha" moment recently, was the observation that high always co-operators who applied this tactic at random attracted defector strategies from others. Why? Others did not perceive them as staying the course and building a relationship.

Groups with a high number of 'always co-operators' are often invaded by defectors. So, a group where trust and referrals used to flow easily suddenly dries up. Everyone says it's changed, but can't quite say how, or are just too nice to want to do anything about it.

Always defect

A network group where every - or most- people defect, usually disintegrates rapidly. Individuals who always defect can do rather well for a time within any group. They're often great sales people so they often sell to the people in the room and then move on. I quite often hear people say that they change their network group every year as it dries out.

However, after a while, they develop a reputation within their business community and have to go further and further afield to find business this way. Martin Nowak pointed out that the tactical co-operators start by tolerating defectors, but usually apply sanctions in the end.

Some formal groups may even have a policy to apply formal sanctions to non co-operators including being asked to leave. In most network groups, however, the sanctions are social with exclusion from group activities, a lack of helpfulness and no referrals.

Be a tactical co-operator

So, how can you apply tactics when networking to bring better results? Here's what I'd suggest:

  1. Join an appropriate group of people who share something in common with you,

  2. Build your reputation within the group. Get to know people and allow them time to know you,

  3. Co-operate with something small. Maybe a connection to someone who can help them,

  4. Ask for something in return that you know they can do,

  5. Make it as easy as possible for people to refer to you,

  6. Build your relationship step by step and monitor who does what for who to keep your relationship in balance,

  7. Don't expect to have the same depth of relationship with everyone in your group. Pick out the tactical co-operators,

  8. If your group appears to be drying up, first check your input is still high then apply some tactics to stimulate referrals.

There are lots of different ways to motivate people to refer to you and most of them are simple to apply. As Ghandi said "be the change you want to see in the world".

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

If anything I've written in this blog post resonates with you and you'd like some help identifying people who share something in common with you and are committed to referral marketing, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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