Building a business by referring others first
In a recent post I suggested it was a good idea to work out
who else is needed when you do business. This simple exercise means you can work out which other businesses give you the most referral opportunities. Both for giving and receiving.
Someone asked me a couple of days ago if I could give an example. Some years ago I was involved in an Internet start up. We provided high speed internet connectivity to business clients in City of London in the days before broadband! Before we opened for business we built relationships with other providers of services in the Internet, IT and Telecoms space. Services that would be complementary to ours and that our clients and potential clients might also need. Some of these may have been competitors in some respects, but we felt that if they were right for a client then we would not be and vice versa.
These other businesses included providers of:
consumer ISP services - we were b2b only.
computer and computer network equipment - we did not sell this equipment.
email and internet software.
computer cabling suppliers.
telephony and telephony equipment.
Most of the time when we spoke with potential clients they might not need our services at the time, but they needed one of these others and we referred them. This kept us front of mind for both our potential clients and those we referred.
Over time all of our business came through referrals from these sources. The 'potential clients' became clients or referred others as a result of the help we provided for them. Those we referred then stated doing the same for us. Many of these relationships also resulted in more collaboration, but that's another story...
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 12:41:55, 05 Jan 11
Tags: Word of Mouth, Referrals, Recommendation, Inner Network, How Networking Works, Business Development, Advocacy
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Who else is needed when you do business?
A couple of months back I was with a group of Professionals and Small Business Owners in Birmingham learning more about Referral Marketing at the Referral Institute's UK & Ireland Conference. The theme of the day was about how you can dramatically increase your referred revenue. One topic covered by Trey McAlister was about understanding 'Contact Sphere Professionals'. These people are in a position to regularly refer each other.
It is worth spending some time identifying this group for your business. Who else is often needed when you do business? What opportunities do you uncover as you go about your work? What other opportunities could you uncover as you go about your work?
This process of identifying them also gives you an idea of the opportunities you have for referring and building your inner network. As you do this for them you are demonstrating how they can do the same for you and others. You are advocating them and providing the motivation for them to do it for you.
You really can get all the business you need through a close knit group of like minded business owners like this. That is provided you are all committed to the success of each other and are all in a position to regularly provide opportunities to each other. You need to meet regularly to strengthen your relationships and exchange opportunities. Why not find a convenient networking group that you can do this in?
You are also adding value to your client relationships by showing them you have their success at heart and not just your own.
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 12:41:25, 05 Jan 11
Tags: Advocacy, Inner Network, Referrals
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Do you nurture your network like a good garden?
Nurturing your network can be similar to tending your garden. In a garden different trees, plants and shrubs require differing amounts of attention to enable them to grow and thrive. It's the same with your network. Some relationships need very little maintenance, some require much more at the start and others need constant attention. Many people, though, think of networking as being all about connecting with as many people as possible. This approach leaves you very little time to build the right relationships. Your garden would soon be over-run with weeds if you neglected that personal care and attention. At this time of year some extra attention is required to ensure the health of your garden for the Winter and in preparation for Spring. In his column in the Financial Times on Saturday Mike Southon offered some advice on networking including some " radical pruning of the people in our on-line networks". The article is worth a read and as Mike wrote, " Any network is all about quality rather than quantity, the depth rather than the breadth of your connections." Good Networking! Dave Clarke
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 13:05:00, 25 Oct 10
Tags: Business Networking, How Networking Works, Online Networking, Networking Relationships, Building Your Network
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An offline networking lesson from Linkedin
Many business people are comfortable with Linkedin. The online tools seem based around the way networking has always worked offline. Used well the Linkedin tools add value to your offline networking. In a peer to peer boardroom session recently we were discussing how someone could get in front of good prospects for a new high value consulting service. One of the difficulties this person had was helping his network identify referral opportunities. We got the person to identify some real companies he could work with. We then searched linkedin for contacts in those companies. Linkedin showed those in our existing networks who were connected to these 'prospects'. The action the person took away from the boardroom was to try and get introductions to these prospects via his network. Linkedin makes that whole process very open & simple. It can be very difficult offline to know who our network knows. One way to help is to identify the the actual companies you want to work with. Then tell your network who they are, how you help and why you want to be introduced. Once you are in a trusted relationship it is well worth setting aside regular one to one time where you explore each others connections and the opportunies within. Good Networking! Dave Clarke
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:35:00, 19 Oct 10
Tags: Business Networking, How Networking Works, Offline Networking, Linkedin, Online Networking
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Who are the best introducers?
I was running the NRG Bath lunch yesterday. Small group but really great people. In the morning I ran a session for the group members where we were helping each other work out who their best introducers were. They knew their target market but found it difficult, like most people, to work out who else knew that market. As we went round the table it became clear that there was one category of introducers that were really desirable. They are the 'trusted advisors', those business professionals who help the business owner/director with specific issues. They might be outsourced finance directors, accountants, business coaches or virtual PAs. They all share the same thing - they understand the business owner's drivers and issues and they have that person's ear. That's easy then. Just aim to meet those 'trusted advisors' and wait for that steady stream of referrals. Of course it doesn't work like that. It is one thing identifying these special people, it is another thing getting them to refer you. That's where relationship building comes in. Only when they know you, like you, trust you will they consider referring you. And only when they are motivated to do so. To start that process of building these critical advocate relationships put yourself in the shoes of John F Kennedy and, to paraphrase "ask not what they can do for you but what you can do for them". Good Networking! Martin Davies
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 13:12:00, 15 Oct 10
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You have a Linkedin profile so now what?
I get asked regularly by business people and professionals about using Linkedin. Here is a short video from the clever folks at Commoncraft that explains it all in very simple language.
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Grant Bagwell at 9:31:00, 15 Oct 10
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Put yourself in their shoes
Most weeks I meet someone who works on their own and who says something like, " I work with blue chips so need to be 'networking' with CEOs, CFOs, CTOs etc of Corporates, Blue Chips etc". Stop for a moment and think about the responsibilities these CXO people have and their priorities. Where do you think meeting a bunch of people at a networking group fits? Instead of thinking about finding these people directly put yourself in their shoes. What are the things they worry about and who do they turn to for advice? That will give you some idea of where to focus your networking efforts. With their other trusted advisers and suppliers! Spend your time building relationships with these people. They are the ones that have influence with and access to your target market. Good Networking! Dave Clarke
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:08:00, 12 Oct 10
Tags: Business Networking, How Networking Works, Trust, Networking Relationships
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How to amplify and not dilute your message
Why does Word of Mouth Marketing work so well? That was the recent headline of an article by my colleague in NRG Business Networks, Martin Davies. Stuart Harris Replied on Twitter, " WoM marketing is great because it's personal but the person isn't paid ("hire a liar") - they recommend or not from the heart". The subject came up yesterday at a seminar on Linkedin before the NRG lunch in Swindon. We know, and research confirms, that a recommendation or referral from a trusted 3rd party is much more powerful than any direct message of yours. That's why networking is not about broadcasting your message to as many people as possible. Neither is it about meeting as many people as you possibly can yourself. That just dilutes your effort. Build strong relationships with a close trusted network. They will deliver those precious 3rd party recommendations and your message will be amplified many times over. ! Good Networking Dave Clarke
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:22:00, 06 Oct 10
Tags: Business Networking, How Networking Works, Word of Mouth, Linkedin, Twitter
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Are you talking enough with the people you already know?
One of the issues I hear most often from Directors and Professionals in small and medium sized businesses is how to generate business in new markets. I facilitated a peer to peer 'Boardroom' session recently where half of the issues raised were around this topic: " How do I reach the companies I want to provide with a new service?" " How do I get people to my networking group?" " How do I get to relevant SMEs?" Many people think the answer is to search for new connections on social networks or find new places to meet lots of people. The problem with this is you can very quickly run out of resources including your precious time. Stretching yourself very thinly in this way probably means getting to hardly know lots of people. Not the way to generate new business. I spoke at an event recently on the big mistake that means networking doesn't work for many people. I asked the audience whether the best business came via recommendation and they agreed. I asked if they agreed that people recommend people in business that they know, like, rate and trust. They agreed again so I also asked whether they thought a good networking event was one with people they mostly didn't know. They agreed with that too and that is very often where the problem begins. Getting to know people takes time and the vast majority of people you meet once will remain as strangers. The best way to get to the people you don't know is not by yourself. It is through word of mouth. It is by getting to know and supporting your close network even better than you do now. Grow advocates amongst them and they will recommend you to the people you don't know yet. Good Networking! Dave Clarke
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 15:00:00, 28 Sep 10
Tags: Like, Business Networking, How Networking Works, Know, Word of Mouth, Trust, Rate, Advocacy
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Your network is the biggest asset in your business
Over the last couple of years many small business owners and professionals have discovered for the first time that business is about downs as well as ups. Fortunately for the economy most of these people have a pretty positive outlook and will be helping lead us out of recession. There are those that will be doing this in an entirely different business from the one they were running three years ago. I was chatting with a few of these people last week. One was talking about the need to meet lots of new people and make new connections for his new business. This is a common approach, but can make life much more difficult in building his new business. It ignores the most important asset he built during his previous business and those before it. His Network! People who know, like, rate and trust him because they have seen him in action and those he has made a real difference to. Those are the people to focus attention on as they are already in a position to make those vital referrals and recommendations that produce the best new sales for any business, new or old. Business may be temporary, but your Network is permanent! Good Networking! Dave Clarke
Business Networking Blog > Posted by Dave Clarke at 8:44:00, 21 Sep 10
Tags: Like, Business Networking, How Networking Works, Know, Trust, Business Development, Rate
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