You’re wasting time networking if you want new customers. This isn’t what you expected to hear from a networking strategist who runs Denver’s best networking group (I know, right? 🙂 ). The truth is, odds are slim your ideal customer will be assembled at a networking event. Even if your ideal client is there, odds are even slimmer they’ll hire you on the spot.
On the other hand, if your networking to meet new people who can lead to new customers, now we’re getting somewhere. Odds are great the networking event has assembled uber-connected business folks and this is where your pay-off is.
People who network have procured many connections over their career, making chances high that they know “someone” (or some-two or -three) who’s connected to your buyer. Their “someone,” who’s connected to your buyer, could be an outstanding referral partner for you. You want to meet their “someone.”
Wise business owners, entrepreneurs and sales people make networking a quest to meet referral partners, rather than coercing the people they meet to become their customer. Getting introduced to one new referral partner could mean 10 new prospects, and potentially 10 new business transactions, while one new client could mean one business transaction.
Do you see how the results (new business) could exponentially increase when you gain one referral partner as opposed to one new client?
Perhaps this example will illustrate this point. My friend Larry has a lawn-mowing company, which I’ll refer to as Lawns-R-Us for the purposes of this illustration. Larry has identified that Landscape Architects are good referral partners for him to get fresh referrals for Lawns-R-Us. You see, a landscape architect designs beautiful yards and, it’s assumed, doesn’t offer lawn maintenance services.
When Larry is having a conversation with someone at a networking event, as the wise company owner he is, Larry asks if they know any landscape architects they could recommend. If yes, Larry asks if they’d be willing to facilitate an introduction. Sure, Larry could open the yellow pages (metaphorically speaking) and cold call landscape architects. However, the warm introduction is much preferred.
For long term effectiveness, a referral partnership ought to benefit both in the partnership. This doesn’t mean each party gets and gives new clients. A win can mean a one has a partner to whom to refer clients when they don’t offer a service their client needs.
In Larry’s case, he rarely comes across people to refer to the landscape architect, as fewer of his clients want to redesign their yard. However, the landscape architect would likely have more happy clients who want to keep their newly designed yards well-manicured. Being able to refer Lawns-R-Us helps the landscape architect. This is a win-win-win scenario, the best kind, as the client wins too!
Before you go to one more networking event, identify at least five referral partners complementary to your company. This means five industries or professions where you fulfill a need (product or service) for their clients that they can’t fulfill themselves or vice versa… they fulfill a need for your clients that you cannot.
Armed with your five referral partners, ask folks for introductions to people they recommend in those industries or professions.
Do you want new business in 2017? Great… go network with the understanding that looking for new clients at networking events is a waste of time. Instead, asking for, and getting, introductions to referral partners leads to magic and checks in the mail.
For more on this topic, read How To Get The Biggest Return From Your Networking Efforts
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