Tag Archives: referrals

Linkedin – A Great Tool When Used Right

linkedinOne of the most popular business tools in the Web 2.0 world is Linkedin. If you are not on Linkedin yet, I would highly encourage you to get there, set up a profile and start connecting with your network. More and more business networking and connecting are happening using Linkedin, it is a tool that makes it easier to connect your network. Here are several ways that you can effectively use Linkedin to help you save time, support your network, pass referrals, and set yourself apart as an expert.

1. Set up your profile – Make it complete, many people go to profiles to learn more about you and your business, what your experience is, as well as where you went to school, and who you know.

2. Put a professional photo on your profileLinkedin is not a “social” site, it is geared more for business and business people. Make sure that you are putting your best smile forward. If you do not have a professional photo get one!

3. Ask for recommendations – If you have done work for one of your clients or network members ask them if they would consider writing a recommendation for you. Last week I spoke at the BNI National Conference, several people asked me later what they could do for me. I asked each of them, if they had been in my presentation would they please go to my Linkedin Profile and write a recommendation. I asked them to list 2-3 things that they learned and why they would recommend me to others. In the Referrals for Life Program we teach our students how to write good testimonials for one another, a recommendation on Linkedin simply makes that testimonial public.

4. Invite your Network to Link – how many people do you have in your database? How many of them are already on Linkedin? Start connecting to them and invite the ones who are not on the site to join you. When you have your network on the site and you are linked to them it will make it so much easier to pass referrals and make connections between each other. You can make connections for one another on Linkedin. No more going through your CRM finding the information on a contact then emailing it. You can simply make connections on the Linkedin site.

5. Answer Questions – find questions that you can answer that will help you be seen as an expert. Because of a question that I answered on Linkedin, I was ask to speak on a conference call to a group of Female CEO’s. Find the questions on topics that you are expert in and answer them well. You can also use these same questions in your blog and newsletters.

Last week, one person in my network, connected me to someone in his network who had ask him if he would make the connection. After some conversation he ask me if I would consider speaking at the regional conference for his organization. I then connected him to someone that he saw in my network whom he thought would be good for a future speaking engagement.

Of all the sites that I am on, Linkedin is the one that makes it easy to connect my networks and help them to connect to one another, it is a perfect tool when you are in the Referrals for Life Program. Remember Linkedin is a tool that enhances, not replace your face to face networking.

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Ladies, Ask for What you Want

4-people-talking1

Over the years I have developed a pretty deep network and one of the things that I spend a lot of time doing is up dating my database.  In the process of doing that this week I noticed that my strongest referral relationships are with guys.  So I began to think about that, why are there more males in my strong contact network instead of women and here are some of the things that I came up with.

When I sit down with a guy to build a referral relationship the conversation tends to be straight forward.  When I ask the question, “What can I do to help you grow your business?”  They almost always have a response.   They let me know exactly what it is I can do; “You can help me get more speaking engagements” or “If you do a newsletter it would be great if you would let me put an article in it.”

On the other hand if when I sit down with a female referral source and ask the same question I am often given this response; “I can’t think of anything but if I do I will let you know.”

Women seem to be challenged at knowing what they need and asking others to help them.  We feel that we cannot ask others to do things for us.  After all, have been raised to believe that it is our responsibility to take care of others, we do things for our spouses, our children, our family members even our co-workers.

One of the tough things for women to do it is ASK for what they want, clearly, succintly without guilt.  It is something that we really must learn if we are ever going to be good at leveraging our networks.  Keep in mind, we are not going to ask anyone for anything that we wouldd not do in return for them if they would ask.

Take a moment and ask yourself the following questions:

1.  What 2-3 things could I ask others to do to help me?  If you know in advance what kinds of things your networking members can do for you it will be easier for you to ask them when you are sharing a cup of coffee.

2.  List 3-4 people you would like to meet or be connected to.  Your network members are happy to connect you if you ask for someone specifically instead of “Anyone who needs my services.”  These might be professionals you want to add to your network, possible referral sources or potential clients.

3.  Make a list of the 4-5 people who might be willing to help you.  Most likely these are people in your network whom you have a relationship with.  They are people whom you are also willing to help if they ask you to.

It is important that you ask for what you want, there are members of your network who are more than happy to help you but they will not figure it out for you or take the initiative.  Our beliefe that “If they like me or if I do a good job for them, they will help me, refer me or connect me” hurts us.  We get what we ask for, if we wait for people to help us it may never happen.

Make it easy for your referral sources

If you want to get more referrals from people in your network, you have to be able to make it easy for them to find and give those referrals to you.   They want to help you, but most will not step out of their comfort zone to make it happen,

Here are 5 things to help you start the process of making it easy;

1. What should I listen for? I am with people all of the time, and many of them are complaining about something, or sharing great news, or contemplating a decision. Each of these conversations present opportunities to develop referrals for you.

2. What visual clue might I see that would lead me to recommend or refer you? Are there things that are common to signals that a person might need you? Such as someone who’s car has a dent in it and you are an auto body shop owner.

3. Are there things that I might see that would help me recognize someone as your target market? Like a motor cycle or boat in a drive way for the insurance agent.

4. What kind of things might be happening that would lead me to believe that someone is in the market for your services? A child being born, and child going to college, or a new business that just opened?

5. Is there an activity that you clients often engage in? Such as running in mini-marathons, jogging, bike riding, working out, skiing, or any number of activities that would help me identify our clients?

The more you can paint a picture for your network members the easier it is going to be for them to help you. Unfortunately, this means that you have to give some thought to what and who you are looking for as clients. Anybody or everybody will not be as effective. Profile you clients and teach your network members how to spot the clues.

Referrals Require Trust

Trust, I recently reviewed a book on trust, I am not sure how many people read it but I will say in the world of referrals, trust is the most important aspect of the referral relationship.

I read blogs and articles all the time talking about your elevator pitch, your message, your handshake, your networking activities and blah, blah, blah.  While all of this is great information for “Networking” and developing your “Word of Mouth” marketing it is not the thing that will get you the level of referrals that you are looking for.  The reality is when it comes to referring you,  I don’t care how good your message is, if your handshake is the best and you are the best networker in town!

What I do care about is this:  IF I give you a referral, when you are done with that referral will I still look good in the eyes of the person I referred?  My reputation, what people think of me and about me is important to me. The number one reason that people do not pass “Qualified Referrals” is the trust issue.  They do not want to risk their name.

With very little trust I can give out all kinds of leads, because my name is not closely tied to the lead, it will not have a major affect on me if it goes bad so I don’t mind taking the chance.

I had to learn this the hard way,  I referred a person to one of my very good friends, we will call him Joe Smith.  Joe owned a very successful printing company who employed several hundred people.  One day Bill asked for a referral to Joe, I did not know Bill very well but he seemed OK,  so I referred him to Joe.

Bill was late to the first meeting, Bill did not follow up after the meeting in a timely manner, in fact Bill dropped the ball in many ways with Joe.  The very next time I saw Joe was at a cocktail party and of course the conversation came around to business and here is the comment that Joe made to the entire group, “Don’t let Hazel refer you to any of the Yahoos in her network, what a joke.”  Ouch!  Not only was I hurt by Bills poor performance, my entire network was now unable to be referred to Joe who actually was in need of many more services that my network could have provided.

Lessons learned:

1.  Only “refer” those whom your know well and have a high level of trust with.  I do not have to worry about my reputation when I put the referral in the hands of one of my trusted referral partners.

2.  Stay involved with the referral.  Had I bothered to follow up with both parties during and after the referral I would have known what was going on and could have saved my reputation as well as my networks. All to often we pass referrals and never think about them again.

3.  Give feedback to the person you referred, they may or may not be aware of the issue and at the very least they should know why you are not going to refer them again.

Sometimes the best lessons are the hardest lessons.  If you are getting a lot of low level leads from your network, ask yourself what you need to do to increase your trust.  Take time to build trust with people and you will find that the referrals you get are of a much higher quality.

The Speed of Trust

The Speed of Trust

The Speed of Trust

I think that one of the best tips that I can pass along to all of you, are the books I have read and how they have impacted my business. This week I would like to tell you about a book that I believe is very pertinent to the referral process. The Speed of Trust, written by Stephen M.R. Covey.

Trust or Credibility is the most important aspect of building your business by referral. If a person does not trust you, they are never ever going to refer business to you. Equally, if they do not trust your team or business they will be reluctant to refer to you. In the past I believed that there was little that you could do to speed up trust or manage trust. That changed recently when I picked up a copy of “The Speed of Trust”. Speed and trust do not really seem to go hand in hand, after all you can’t rush trust or can you?

Stephen explains the high cost to organizations and individuals to have no trust or low trust. He also bust the myths that we have about trust and address the reality of trust, for instance it is a common belief that “You can’t teach trust.” Reality is “trust can be effectively taught and learned, and it can become a leverageable, strategic advantage.” Read the book to get the other 7 Myths.

The foundation of the book is the discussion of the 5 waves of trust, self trust, relationship trust, organizational trust, market trust, and societal trust with the steps and tips for building each of these levels.

BONUS:   Take a look at his website, The Speed of Trust there are variety of resources for you to take advantage of, get a Complimentary analysis of your personal credibility or an Online survey to assess the level of trust colleagues, friends, and others have in you. I was surprised by my results!

Get the book today, you will be glad you did!   TRUST ME!

How Can I Help You?

How many times have you done a one to one, or met with someone and meeting finishes with this statement….”Let me know if there is anything I can do for you.” Or “Is there anything that I can do to help you?”

We simply say, send me leads, or referrals or we say something like this “I can’t think of anything right now, but I will let you know if I do.” What a lost opportunity. People can help you in more ways than just passing referrals or leads, here are a list of things that you can do for one another that will help each of you.

1. You could put an article about my services in your newsletter, I will do the same for you.
2. You could invite me to a networking opportunity that you may be going to.
3. You could nominate me for an award it would build my credibility
4. You could attend an event with me; it would create visibility for both of us.
5. You could display my information or products in your office or store.
6. You could mention me in your blog.
7. You could read my blog and comment, and then link to my blog.
8. You could introduce me to your network
9. You could write an article for my newsletter
10. You could invite your best client to our chapter so I could meet them.
11. You could WRITE me a great testimonial that I could used in my materials.
12. You could put my brochure or information in your client mailings.

There are so many other things that we can do for each other that will add value to our business. Instead of always asking for a referral, ask for something else. People are more than willing to help you, just give them other opportunities. Give me a list of other things that you would value and could ask for.

REMEMBER
: If you ask others to do it for you, then you must be willing to reciprocate.

Your Reputation and Networking

What can/does networking do for your professional reputation?

By “professional reputation”, I mean how people view you as a professional both in the meeting room and outside the office. Your integrity, respect, intelligence, and impact on those around you. When you network through LinkedIn, how can professional networking relate to all these areas?

Networking creates visibility for you, people know who you are and have a face to put with a name.  Quality networking can indeed enhance your reputation and create credibility for you.  Poor networking can create a different reputation.  People who drink to much, people who pitch and pressure others about their product or service and people who show up in person with a very poor professional image, create a whole different reputation, not the one they may have wanted. 

 

There is a person on Linkedin who consistently puts stupid, trying to be funny,  answers to peoples questions, he thinks he is cute, many others think very differently, so he has a reputation, it just may not be the one he wants. 

 

Online or in person, it is very important to mind your manners, behave professionally, don’t be a know it all, participate, answer questions intelligently, follow up with people, become known as someone who does what they say and always Give before asking to Get.  You will be well respected, thought of as someone who is intelligent and connected.  You will be someone that others want to be linked to. 

 

My friend Scott Allen wrote a book called “The Virtual Handshake”  it is a great resource for people who want to network online.  Dr Ivan Misner founder of BNI and the Referral Institue has written many great books on Networking and how to build credibility with your network.