May 30, 2017

How to Generate Referrals: Network High

A good referral makes selling so much easier, but how do you generate referrals more predictably?

Everyone wants more referrals, whether they’re from customers, centers of influence, or partners. It doesn’t matter the source. What we want is to be connected with potential customers at the right time with a warm introduction.

Generating referrals can be quite haphazard. The traditional approach to referral marketing is through networking: luncheons, events, coffee dates, and calls. And with social media, you can connect with even more people.

The challenge is connections are cheap. Not all people are good sources of referrals. You might meet people who are really nice and interesting, and they may even be connected to your industry. But that doesn’t mean they will ever generate referrals for your business.

Most networking is a waste of time. Attending networking events and meeting lots of people rarely generates the results you’re looking for.

To generate referrals consistently and predictably network high.

Who Will Spot a Need Before You?

Networking high is a very simple idea. Who are the people or companies that know about a customer’s need before you?

For instance, two of my most effective referral partners specialize in mergers and acquisitions. They refer clients to me for branding and marketing strategies in two situations:

  • Companies that are being packaged for sale.
  • Companies that are completing a merger or acquisition.

A M&A is an important moment for branding, but networking to find these opportunities is unproductive. Rather, I network and have strong relationships with a few people that know about these opportunities, because that’s their business.

Networking high is based on the Influence Curve — a model to understand an organization’s influence in a buying continuum. Your best referral partners are the ones above you on the Curve, because they’re the ones that can spot an opportunity before you.

A Simple Strategy to Generate More Referrals

Ask two questions to generate referrals consistently:

  1. Who are the companies or services that come before us?
  2. Who are the companies or services that follow us?

You want to look both up and down the Influence Curve. Your source of referrals are above you. For instance, an architect comes before a contractor, and a landscaper comes after construction.

When you map out the types of services that come before your services you can focus your marketing efforts. A few good referral partners above you on the Influence Curve will outperform a thousand general connections.

As an effective networker, you also want to give. Who are the people or companies that follow your services?

Working below you on the Influence Curve has two benefits:

  1. Better customer experiences. You can serve your clients by guiding them to the right partners they need to grow their businesses.
  2. Givers Gain. Generous networking always pays for itself. Partners below you on the Curve may not reciprocate in referrals, but they may offer you something even better. It’s the magic of reciprocation.

A Referral Is Golden

A good referral makes life so much easier, because you start everything off on the right on foot. You are connecting with a customer at the right time with a relevant need, and you are being endorsed by a trusted partner. You really can’t ask for a better situation.

Referrals are your best source of customers, and the process doesn’t have to be haphazard. Network high to generate referrals more consistently.

Who knows about a need for your services before you? Find these people and companies, and develop them into relationships. The people above you on the Influence Curve will be your best referral partners.

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