How about a recommendation or endorsement to a qualified prospect?
There are more and more ways for people to hear about your business. Facebook, Google, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and the list goes on. There’s also the ‘old fashioned’ way……. word of mouth, person to person.
The organisations that developed the electronic platforms are using all of their power to digitise the ‘chemistry’ that occurs when two people connect – face to face. But after my many years in business, one of the many things that I have found is that the
authenticity, passion and credibility that occurs face to face is still an essential part of marketing your business through networks.
Let’s be clear here. Online social media is an essential ELEMENT of your marketing strategy but it has its limits and it has its place.
I’ve attended a number of networking events over the years. A common theme and dynamic that I’ve observed is the “sell, sell, sell” approach that a large number of the participants use. It’s as if they aren’t listening to anyone else…. they’re just positioning the conversation to talk about themselves.
I feel that a lot of this is not usually the intent of the event organisers, although it seems to be a common occurrence. The places that I’ve experienced that have a more natural, cohesive and collaborative ‘feel’ achieve the supportive dynamic through ‘community.’ Not the community = “let’s label this as a community because it’s the buzz word of the moment” but more
community = “we share values, we have similar hopes and dreams for ourselves, our families, our communities and, yes, our businesses”
It’s quite easy to see the types of referrals that come out of the various networking ‘strategies’
- Quick Fire / Speed strategy – Business cards, buzz words and shallow referrals. No real connection. How could there be connection when all you did was hear a pitch and pass on a business card. This is only good for developing mailing lists or a database network (Great, now I’m on someone else’s mailing list and have yet another email to read about things that I don’t understand, don’t interest me or don’t value.) It does not develop a connected network.
- Regular, structured interaction – A network of people you can recommend after seeing their consistent commitment to marketing their business. This leads to recommendations that are better than standard referrals because the referer has an understanding of the product/service and the value it has in the marketplace. There’s also the element of having ‘skin in the game’. If you recommend someone then there’s a degree of personal responsibility as you could potentially be associating yourself with someone who does not demonstrate you values and my not meet the need of the customer.
- Community – People meet and engage on a regular basis as part of a structured format and also interact outside of the format because they care about the other members, the members care about them and they are accountable to each other. This is the type of environment where partnerships, joint ventures and real collaboration develop organically and flourish for the benefit of all involved. When personal and professional development is added to this mix…. great things happen. Increased connection, increased leads, increased capacity, increased revenues and increased profits.
I say all of that to say this….
There are three levels of referrals from lowest to highest.
Level 3 – Standard Referral. e.g. “Here’s a business card of someone in that area.” No connection. A cold lead. You can’t do more than that because you don’t actually know more about the business, the services or the likelihood that the person can deliver. What you have here is a cold lead with low credibility and the lead will require more work (if they have the skills and capacity) for the business to ‘sell’ to the lead. Note that there’s still a small ‘link’ that the person will have with the person who referred them to the business. If there was no connection or depth to the referral that often transfers to the ‘tone’ of the first conversation or contact with the company.
Level 2 – Recommendation. e.g. “Here’s the contact information for Service Product Ltd. Based on what you told me, I think they can help you because do stuff in that area”. This provides a connection and a warm lead. This is where the higher performing leads come from. The person who recommended the organisation has ‘skin in the game’ and will recommend based upon a higher level of certainty that both the organisation and the person they are recommending to the organisation will be served. To get a recommendation, takes a little longer than 60 seconds or a quick chat over one breakfast or lunch.
Recommendations happen as you develop a relationship.
Level 1 – Endorsement. e.g. “You really need to speak to Sam and Sally. They work with people who are just like you. I know they’ll do their best for because they did that for me and for XYZ and they’ve been doing it for years. Besides, they are great people to get to know because they know a lot about their industry and are well-connected.” This is where the endorser can speak with passion and authenticity – primarily as a result of seeing the people they are endorsing over time, learning, growing, doing the hard work and getting consistent results. This happens when you invest time in yourself and with others in a community of people with shared values and a vision to grow.
Puzzle me this, puzzle me that….
Which type of referral would you prefer to get for yourself or your business?
When you get the referral, do you have systems, processes and the capacity to effectively and efficiently deal with not just one opportunity but maybe dozens more…. on the same day……or for days on end? I guess this is another case of ‘be careful what you wish for’.
I can recommend two organisations that could be an important part of the networking element of your marketing strategy. I only endorse one ‘business breakfast’ organisation when it comes to being a part of a supportive, learning, business growth and tangible results focussed community. It happens to be known as “The World’s No.1 Business Growth Community” because it is a connected community that learn and APPLY skills and strategies that allow the Members to stand out when they attend networking events and meetings.
The Business Wealth Club is an organisation that has been running for nearly a decade in the UK and has recently launched in the USA. The reason I endorse the organisation is that the leadership and the Members ‘walk the talk’, get results, nurture and develop Level 2 Recommendations and Level 3 Endorsements as a part of the culture of the community.
After 20 years of being a trainer, coach and consultant, I’ve recently become the Club Mentor for the Birmingham branch of The Business Wealth Club and THAT’S a Level 3 Endorsement!