You’re on your way home from a networking event, and you’re rather pleased with yourself. Not only were you able to collect several dozen business cards while handing out a similar number of your own, but two individuals you met actually gave you “leads.”
Now you have in your proud possession the names and contact information for companies your networking friends think might be able to use your products and services. What could possibly be better than that?
And the answer is… TV quiz show drum roll here… Referrals!
Let’s backtrack a moment. In this Beyond Networking blog, remember, the goal is to reach further – and deeper – beyond traditional networking, getting to the point where networking really starts to work for us.
The fact is, study after study demonstrates that your best clients meet you through an introduction from someone they already trust. In other words, the way to meet really good clients is through referrals.
Every sales training course (I’ve taken and led many!) talks about referrals, and about how lack of commitment to getting referrals can limit a business person’s success.
Bill Cates, author of Get More Referrals, has something truly worthwhile to say about the big R’s, something very much in tune with my Beyond Networking principles.
A common error, Cates says, is making referrals be about you, where you, in the old sales-school style, explain to clients that your business is built on referrals. What the clients hear is that, in order for you to keep providing them with good client service, they need to help you grow your business by supplying names of their friends and associates.
“Clients give referrals only when they see the value in the work you do,” Cates explains, suggesting that if a business is not getting referrals without asking, it’s a signal that something’s wrong.
In coaching hundreds of people over the years, I’ve arrived at a very simple conclusion about all of this: R’s (referrals) depend on R (relationship).
As we continue to create deeper relationships with our clients, coworkers, and network contacts, referrals will follow. My book, The Power Is In The Connection, is all about relationships.
What’s better – much, much better – than a lead? A relationship, and its inevitable result – a referral!