If you have networked at all you realize how difficult it can be to attain new sales leads. Referrals are the lifeblood for any salesperson and the competition for referral leads is stiff. There are as many ways to network as there are things to sell in our economy. Uncovering fresh sales opportunities through lead referrals is still the cheapest and surest way to find solid sales leads.
Where Do I Find The Treasure?
If you have been selling anything for any length of time, you know family and friends are low hanging fruit in the sales business. What happens when that well dries up? Do you pay for a lost of leads and referrals? Do you look to get adopted and widen your net of family to sell to? Of course not, no serious sales professional sells only to family and friends. So, where do you go now? The next orchard of low hanging sales fruit is likely current clients and fellow entrepreneurs. Who knows what people are looking for better than fellow business owners, who have their ear to the ground on a daily basis? Your current clients love you (hopefully) so why not ask them? Here are a few tips to help you ask for those leads:
How to Network (Successfully) & Get Lead Referrals from Clients and Fellow Entrepreneurs
We all want leads…leads, leads, leads. Lead referrals and almost like gold. It’s shiny, it’s valuable and you have to know where to look to find it. While there is no “magic wand” to wave and gain this almost mythical prize, the following tips may help:
Listen to Others
It is stated that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason, which can only be that we are to speak less and pay more attention to what others are saying. When we apply this in business, we are better able to discern the needs of our clients and business peers. Listening more strengthens the bond we’re building with others because it demonstrates that we truly care about what they’re saying. Practicing this goes a long way because, for the most part, people ultimately desire to be heard.
Give the First Referral
This will not only set you apart from everyone else, but it also shows your loyalty and indicates that your main concern isn’t to use your business relationships solely for the sake of receiving referrals. It demonstrates that you’re a team player.
Follow Up On Leads Within 24 Hours
Believe it or not, most people take a few days with follow-ups. Make yourself shine by getting in contact with any leads within one day. This shows your potential clients that you mean business and that they are of importance to you.
No need to elaborate – just follow this golden rule.
Thank Everyone In Creative Ways
Show your gratitude with inexpensive, but thoughtful, gifts, such as writing a great review on any of their business’ social media platforms, or simply mailing a ‘Thank You’ card with a personal handwritten message. Sometimes it really is the small things that mean so much.
Schedule Networking As an Appointment
Stop leaving networking events as an if-I-make-it-I’ll-make-it type of event in your calendar. Schedule it in and treat it like any other important appointment that you would be absolutely sure to attend.
Be On Time!
Losing a client over being 5 minutes late is not worth it. Even worse, losing all the potential referrals you could have received from that client is not worth any level of tardiness.
Drop the “It’s About Me” Attitude
This one is definitely challenging, considering that we’re networking for the sake of gaining business. Once we learn to drop the what’s-in-it-for-me attitude, we can get a lot further when it comes to gaining trust and strengthening relationships.
This is so important and repeated time after time, networking is about treating people like people and not like floating dollar signs.
Create Clients and Not Customers
Ken Blanchard explains it best in his book Raving Fans – a book I recommend for any entrepreneur. You create clients by providing value and services that consistently fulfill their needs. There are two types of stores, there’s the one we don’t normally go to, but have no problem stopping by only when there is a fantastic sale – that makes us a customer. Then there is the store we loyally go to each and every time we need something – that makes us a client. Go after the client, not the customer.
Networking is challenging and takes time, effort and patience, but as long you stay persistent at disciplining yourself to follow your plan of action, you’ll become a pro and take joy in reaping all the networking seeds that you have sown. Keep at it!
The Beacon Center was originally created as a Business Networking tool. We have grown and matured, with our focus being venue rentals. We host many networking events and can help you schedule an event of your own. After all, if YOU hold the Networking Event, you have the first crack at those referrals.