Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Train Your Referral Resources

Whenever I talk with a client, at the end of the conversation I always ask if there is anything that I can help them with. Most of the time they say no… however, I go on to make suggestions of others in my network of support that may be able to offer their services.

Two businesswomen in suits shaking hands and smiling.There is a Cajun word called lagniappe (/ˈlænjæp/ LAN-yap). When I think of business networking I always think of that word when I am speaking with my clients and customers. My definition is: “give all you can… and then some!” In other words I always give my clients what I promise and then some. Under promise… over deliver. I consider that part of my service is to discover additional ways to help them.

I don’t just want customers and clients. I want to make new friends of them so that we can have strong, committed relationships with one another – the kind of relationships that has us thinking of each other and helping each others businesses grow and prosper.

“It may take awhile, but if you select and train your referral sources well and you use the system to its best advantage in referral development, you will really speed up the process of turning connections into referrals for your business.” ~ Ivan Misner

If you are not having a brief “networking how can I help you” session at the end of a client’s meeting, I suggest that you begin. I would bet that even some of the most successful networkers don’t remember to do this. It only takes a few seconds to say, “How can I help you?” It only takes a brief minute to offer referrals or people that might be able to help them. For me it’s an instinct wired deep in my brain… something that I now do automatically. Some of my most solid networking contacts continue to bring me unexpected referrals year in and year out. Many are my best friends. They can do a great job marketing for you when they run across someone that needs your service or product. Often you will have to coach them as you go.

When you interact with your clients, customers, referral sources, and contacts with a referral mind-set, show them that you are a “giver,” that you help others, and continually and strategically give referrals, you’re modeling the behavior you want others to exhibit toward you. Remember to talk “with’ your customers, not “at” them. People usually trust the recommendation of a friend, family member, colleague, or even stranger.

People do business with those they like and trust. Being there for someone with an unexpected offer to help can lead to more business than you can imagine over the years. It’s time that we take a serious look at training our referral resources better. Let them know that you can be a resource for them. Give them examples of how you have helped others. Be sure that they know the best kind of referrals that would be of interest to you. Referrals are only helpful if they’re given to the right people for the right reasons.

teamworkThe people you know that are in your network can be a valuable source of referrals… but they need to be reminded of this every so often. It’s important not to be a pest. It’s also important to make it clear that your are not just asking them for referrals but you are offering – first – to be of assistance to them. Be specific about this. When you are passing a referral to an untrained but potentially valuable referral partner, let them know exactly what you’re doing and suggest ways he can reciprocate.

I call this “recruiting cheerleaders.” I am building a team of supporters for my business by giving them what they need. These are people who not only help cheer you along, but sing your praises to others they know, spreading the great words about your business all because you offered to act as their resource whenever they need something. Talk about your resources. Maintain visibility. Let them see you in action. Let others know how well you are connected. They need to know that you are not just flapping your gums but are serious about helping others. It’s been said that just about anything you need can be found within 3 to 5 phone calls from a well-connected networker.

Many entrepreneurs continually pass up this golden opportunity to build their business. Train yourself at the conclusion of a successful client meeting to ask if there is anyway that you can help them, and to suggest that they pass along your name to others who might benefit from your services.

By talking openly and honestly about what you are doing, you are not only modeling the behavior you want from your potential referral partner, you are allowing them to think about it and to discover ways to incorporate what you are doing into their way of doing business and networking. Educate your customers. Share your knowledge freely. When you do, your business will generate referrals like a well-oiled machine.

Obviously there are no guarantees that reciprocation will occur, but I can tell you this, it most likely will not occur if you don’t casually train your networking friends about the benefits of giving.

BONUS Article: How Can I Help You?

netHQ

Copyright © 2013 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

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1 Comment »

  1. […] Article: Train Your Referral Resources How Much Time Do You Spend Looking for Referrals For Others? Are You Helping Others in the Same Way […]

    Pingback by Are You an ACTIVE Referrer? | Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James — Friday, November 15, 2013 @ 7:34 am | Reply


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