February 1, 2010

Two Simple Steps To Endless Referrals

You might welcome a cold shower on a hot day but when would you yearn for a cold call?

Do Not Call. Do Not Spam. As consumers, we also rejoice when interruptions by phone and email vanish. There's still plenty of junk mail and advertising from big companies but how effective are they? The client attraction options for small entrepreneurs have changed. That's good because a cheaper classic approach works better.

Why Referrals
I've never made a single cold call. Since I started working with entrepreneurs in 2005, I've relied entirely on referrals. You can too.

When you're introduced by someone with credibility, you're automatically the expert. You can't easily brand yourself as an authority without looking like a braggart. Proper positioning is a big advantage of working in a real or virtual team.

By recommending you, the referrer looks good. They show generosity by saying nice things about someone else. They enhance their credibility by showing they know valuable resources. In exchange, you reciprocate (the first universal principle of influence). You then get more referrals.

"By Referral Only"
People want what they can't easily get. That's the lure of scarcity, the second universal principle of influence. But don't put "by referral only" on your business card, website or advertising. Who's going to believe you? If you truly have too much desirable business to handle
  • get more efficient
  • find a partner or add staff
  • refer the overflow to others in your network
Here's a simple test: if you're still giving out business cards, you're probably not taxed to your current capacity.

The Two Ways
To get endless referrals,
  1. become referrable, and
  2. remain visible
Just don't count on results later today or tomorrow. You're planting seeds. Be prepared to wait months or years. In the meantime, keep doing what you're doing.

Become Referrable
Be honest. Would you recommend your services to someone you truly cared about? Or would they get better results elsewhere? Earlier, we examined the four simple habits you can follow to become and remain referrable. Few of your competitors bother, which increases your chances of standing out.

Even the referrable get forgotten in the hectic pace of life. Suppose you're remembered. How easily can the potential referrer find your current contact information? Don't count on them searching for hours. Your web presence helps unless you have lousy email address.

Remain Visible
Networking makes you visible but you must provide regular reminders to remain visible.

Besides networking in person, you can now connect online. LinkedIn makes your network visible and you visible to your network. You can participate in different groups from the comfort of your office or home. What you do online usually leaves permanent tracks back to you.

These days it's very easy to remind people of you. This is like advertising but works better and costs less. An eNewsletter works wonderfully. So do short status updates placed where your targets can see them. Services like ping.fm let you send the same message to different sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter (if appropriate). For now, try posting a regular message on LinkedIn at least twice a week.

You want your reminders to be welcomed and eventually anticipated. So make them useful to your network. Links to online information work well. Yes, you can sprinkle in the occasional personal items.

Attracting referrals doesn't take much time or money. It takes commitment and patience. Keep doing what you're doing and add referral magnets to your mix. May your business bloom to the stage you discontinue your business cards. "By referral only" indeed.

PS You must also be great --- and remain great --- at your specialty.


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