Andy Lopata, Guest Author
If you have built a strong network then you should be able to ask for the introductions that will make a difference to you.
Like anything though, timing is everything. And too often traditional sales training teaches us to ask at the wrong time, such as straight after a sales meeting or when someone has just said “thank you.”
Here are five ways to get the timing right:
ONE: When the relationship, and their trust in you, is at the right level ~ Don’t rush towards asking for referrals straight away, just because someone has the right contacts for you. Build the relationship first and ask when you know it will be a pleasure for the other person to refer, rather than a chore.
Focus on the other person first. Look to develop the relationship by helping them. Make the right connections, offer your support or just show a genuine interest in them.
TWO: When it’s a two way process ~ If your relationship with someone else is deep enough and you are in a position to refer each other you can be far more transactional in the way you ask.
Why not ‘buddy up’ and refer each other as a matter of course? I have a number of clients who meet with referral partners on a regular basis, open up their address books and swap introductions.
This approach works best once you have a very strong level of mutual trust and confidence in each other.
THREE: When you’re catching up ~ If you haven’t seen someone for a while arrange to meet them for a catch up over coffee or lunch. As you talk about what each of you is doing at the moment, opportunities for introductions will probably crop up and referrals become a natural part of the conversation.
FOUR: When your Champion is going to be meeting your prospect ~ Your task when asking for referrals is to make it as easy as possible for your network to make the introductions for you. And, depending on the nature of their meeting, there are few times when it is easier for them to do so than when they are in front of the person you want to meet.
If you know your Champion is meeting with someone you’d like to be introduced to, help them understand exactly why that person would want to meet you and how to introduce you into the conversation, so that they are comfortable raising the topic.
FIVE: When you have something specific to ask for ~ The number one way to make it easy for people to refer you is to ask for something specific. You are far more likely to be successful if you ask ‘can you introduce me to xxx’ than ‘if there’s anyone you know who…’.
By being specific you are giving your Champion a focused task rather than a vague objective. So develop the relationship and wait to ask until you know it’s the right time for a specific introduction.
Copyright © 2013 – Andy Lopata. Reprinted with permission. Labeled “Mr Network” by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called “one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists” by the Financial Times. The co-author of two books on networking, Andy is a featured columnist the US magazine “The National Networker,” as well as being regularly quoted in the national press. Previously, Andy was Managing Director of UK network Business Referral Exchange. Andy has since worked with companies from one-man bands to organisations such as NatWest Bank, Merrill Lynch and Mastercard to help them realise the full potential from their networking. He is a former vice-president of the Professional Speakers Association. Visit Andy’s Website and BLOG.
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