Continuing on the theme of marketing for the newly promoted, today I want to talk about giving referrals.
When we talk about referral marketing (newly promoted or not) most of the focus tends to be how to get referrals. I think we should put more focus on giving them. And not just reciting platitudes like ”givers get”, “give first”,etc., – but actually setting and tracking goals related to how many referrals you will give each month.
When you focus on giving referrals it helps develop a powerful mindset that will help you in several aspects of your career. First, you learn to listen to the needs of customers and colleagues. I talked a little bit about this in the post about cross-selling. Listening and identifying the real needs of your customers is an important business building skill.
Many of us are reluctant to ask for referrals. We spend our days having the answers and giving advice - asking for help can feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, asking or starting a conversation about referrals can be our biggest obstacle to getting them. By focusing on helping by giving referrals, we feel more comfortable starting those conversations. When you help people, they will want to reciprocate. When they ask how they can help you in return, make sure you have an answer. People want to feel good about being able to help you too, so do your best to make it easy for them to do so.
This approach also works well in social media. There is always a lot of discussion around how to use social media for business. One of the best ways for professional service providers to get started in social media is to listen to the conversations that are going on and then connect people with the resources or other people they need to meet to help solve their problems. Again, you don’t have to solve their problems, but be the person that helped them get their problem solved.
Networking is another cousing of referrals and you can become a better networker using this same approach. The next time you go to a networking event “forget” you business cards in the car and play this game. Anytime you take someone else’s business card you must come up with a reason to follow up with this person the next day. You can send them an article, someone’s contact info, the link to a website of another networking event, anything, so long as they expressed in interest in it to you during your conversation. And of course, give them your contact info since your “forgot” your cards.
Start your new habit by setting small goals for yourself related to giving referrals. Can you give one referral this week?
And if you’re smart, you’ll form this habit well before your are in a position where you are expected to bring in business.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant