I met a person at a business function recently. We got along well and engaged in some pleasant conversation.
Not long after that meeting, this person contacted me and asked if I would promote his business to my contact database.
While we seemed to click at the previous meeting, I did not consider this person someone I knew very well.
His request made me wonder just how many people assume that if they have met you at a business function, they can ask you to do something that would normally be reserved for close business associates.
Referral marketers know that simply having a good conversation with someone at a meeting does not make him a good business connection.
With referral marketing, it is not necessarily “who you know” or even “what you know”.
It’s more about how well you know the person before you can move to the next step and include him as a powerful ally in your referral network.
Simply put, this means you not only must have a wide network of referral contacts but also a deep connection with the most important people within your referral network.
Most networkers strive to make as many contacts as they can so that their network is widespread.
They keep making contacts in the hope that the next person will be the one who will bring just what they need this week, month or quarter.
If you are going to make the effort to develop a wide network, make sure you also spend just the same amount of effort in developing deep connections with each of your potential or actual referral partners.
After all, when the time comes for you to ask them to promote you or your products or services, you want to make sure you have a strong connection before you make the request.
If you are going to make a request of someone within your network, consider first, is he a contact or a connection?
Based on my experience, a contact is someone you know, though you haven’t as yet had a chance to establish a strong relationship.
A connection is someone whom you know and who trusts you because you have taken the time to get to know him and establish your credibility with him.
Taking the time to get to know your referral partners will earn you loyalty and support, rather than the person who rushes in and asks for assistance prematurely.
This person will likely receive little or no support, as he is not yet in a relationship with his potential referral partner.
Like a tall tree, taking the time to put down roots is imperative if you are hoping to grow your business big and strong.
To put down substantial referral marketing roots, I recommend you take the following actions:
Build solid relationships
Take the time to get to know people, find out as much as you can about their business and their personal likes and dislikes.
Ask what are their goals and aspirations, what are their interests and hobbies and what sport do they follow. The more information you can gather and share, the better a relationship you will build.
The better relationship you have, the better the chances you can assist each other in your referral marketing efforts.
Network in the right places
Make sure that you attend the right networking groups for you. What works for one person may not work for another.
Whatever you do, don’t just join any networking group because someone asks you to.
When you do join the group, turn up regularly to all the meetings, contribute and build relationships before you are tempted to ask for an opportunity to do business.
Think “How can I help you?” rather than “How can you help me?”
One of the most powerful tools in any networking group is to think about how you can help other people first.
Share relevant information with your potential referral partners, invite them to other functions that might be of benefit to them and position them favourably with others they need to get to know.
Keep in mind that you want to be in a position where you are always able to give other people something.
Embrace the philosophy that “givers gain”.