Well, from a points perspective, last week was pretty good. This was mainly due to an event we did on Thursday. Of the 165 points for the week, 99 were related to the event. That’s a good Score Card but those points are only as good as the follow up.
Social events are an important part of my referral marketing strategy and one of the main ways I make new connections. It is how I make it easy for my referral partners and clients to refer me. Lots of planning goes into events but they can be very productive from a relationship building perspective. The Certified Networker Night on Thursday gave us as opportunity to recognize clients, provide a speaking opportunity to a former client and important relationship, renew old connections with current and former clients, and meet new business people who could either become prospects or good referrals or connections for members of my network. I was also able to use one of my clients as the caterer and thus promote her business while giving her business.
So the proof in the pudding will be in the coming weeks. How many opportunities did we create and how many of those will turn into business, not just for me but also for my clients who attended the event?
I’ve got house guests coming on Friday, my brother, Paul and his wife, Betsy. They are easy company and I’m really looking forward to the visit. But have to keep the focus this week and set things up for the next. They’ll be here for 10-11 days so I’ll need to be creative with my marketing and communications to not let things drop while remaining a good host. When you are the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, these are the types of things that can put a big dent in the pipeline if you let them. We’ll see how I do.
The theme for this week seems to be leads generation. So let’s take a look at it from a few perspectives.
First, why are you gathering leads? The obvious, first answer is getting names of prospects for your business. But you may be building a mailing list for a newsletter, or building your support or information network. Or maybe you are positioning yourself as a hub firm so that you become a referral producing machine. Let’s assume you are developing prospects.
Now, what activities are you involved in that produce leads? Making a list of all of them is good, then reviewing the eight sources of referrals: clients, contact spheres, power teams, people you do business with (or who expressed interest in doing business but didn’t), people whose business benefits from yours, referral groups, business and social groups, staff members and friends, and key referral partners. Hey, wait! That’s nine. Well, I guess you can’t have too many.
Let’s start with clients. There is no end to the ways suggested to extract referrals from your clients. My caution has always been that your relationship with them is the most important thing. You work hard to gain their trust and thus, their business. You do not want to damage that in any way, so how and when you ask for referrals will depend on a number of factors. Have you laid the ground work for asking? Have you earned the right? Some people are not concerned with these questions but most of us are. So it is important to prepare your clients for their role as a referral source. You might start with the idea that you will encounter a broad spectrum of attitudes in your client base regarding making referrals. This runs from first-date- spill-their-guts-tell-you-all-and-everyone to the more cautious “I don’t normally do that” client who will require a long relationship-building process to convert. How you go about asking for referrals and when you do it depends heavily on your behavioral style, your client’s style, and the quality of relationship you have built with them.
That’s plenty to get started on. Next time we’ll talk about making yourself a resource for your clients. Remember don’t come out of the gate asking for something before you have made the deposits. Focus on building relationships and the referrals will follow.
I had the good forture to be asked to present a webinar on referral marketing for RainToday.com. They specialize is sales and marketing resources for service professionals. In preparation for the webinar, I was interviewed by Michelle Davidson of RainToday. The title of the interview is: “How to Get Referrals without Asking for Them”. Here’s a link to the Interview and to her blog.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the subject.