For people to continue an effort, they need to feel appreciated for it. This is just as true in business networking as in anything else in life. If you have been doing business networking for any length of time, you will have people who have contributed to your success in various ways. This is probably a good time for me to say thank you to Beate Chelette for allowing me to guest blog for her on PhotoBizCoach.com for over a year now. Thanks also to those who have given me ideas to write about or have commented on this blog.
Maybe it’s providing referrals, perhaps even better they’ve provided referral sources (“golden geese”) who provide a steady stream of referrals. However it is that people have helped you, it’s very important that you find ways to express your appreciation if you would like this behavior to continue. Anyway, it’s just good manners. So what are various ways that people do this? Some people pay their referral partners for their referrals. It might be a flat fee, or a percentage of what you make on the referral. Personnally, I think this cheapens the relationship & I don’t recommend it. You want people referring you because they consider you a friend & have confidence in your work and in the value you provide to your customers (their referrals to you). So here are what I think are some better ways to express your appreciation.
1- Let them know how the referral is going. Let them know you actually contacted their referral in a timely manner. I frequentlly will copy or blind copy my referral source on my communications with the referral so they can keep up with how it’s going. This not only satisfies their curiousity, but it keeps them in the loop if it’s necessary to have them help you close the sale or learn more about the person they referred to you.
2- Say thank you! There is nothing more demoralizing than helping someone & receiving no thanks for it. They’re less likey to refer you again if they don’t feel you appreciated what they did for you. There are many ways to say “thank you”. These include:
– simply saying thank you the next time you see them
– calling to say thank you
– emailing a thank you
– writing a hand written note to say thank you
– using Send Out Cards to send a personalized thank you note
– One of the best ways to say thank you is to acknowledge the referral and thank them at your next networking meeting that you both attend. This not only thanks them, but is a testimonial to the other group members that they’re a good referral partner.
– Finally, the absolute best way to say thank you in addition to all of the above is to return the favor by giving them a warm introduction to a referral.
What are some ways to provide those all important introductions? There are many; some better than others. First of all, my pet peeve is that a lead is NOT a referral. What’s the difference? A lead is where you give someone information about a potential client for them. Contact information and some knowledge about why this person may need their services. Leads can be bought. Leads can be gotten from the yellow pages. This is not what referral marketing is about & if you’re only giving leads, you’re likely also only getting leads.
So what’s a “referral”. This is where you warm up the lead by rubbing a little of the trust they have in you off onto your referral partner. There are many ways to do this, but they all involve your bragging about your referral partner to the “lead” in a way that you know they will be receptive to your partner’s next contact. Now the “lead” has become a referral.
Compare these two scenarios & see which you’d rather receive:
1- “Hey John, I know a new restaurant opening up in your area. Here’s the name of the proprieter. I forget his phone number, but he might need menue photos. You should give him a call.” (Hint this is a “lead”).
2- “Hey John, I was speaking with Joe Cook, the owner of the new restaurant opening up at 1300 third street next July. He mentioned he will be needing new menues, so I told him how great you are at food photography & asked if he’d like you to call him. He said he’d welcome a call from a trusted source, and that if I recommended you, you must be good. Here’s his phone & email information. He said the best times to reach him are between 3 & 4pm during the week. Please let me know how it works out & if there is anything else I can do to help. Perhaps we can schedule to meet him together & I can introduce you. Let me know how I can best help you.”
Which would you rather get of the above. The “lead” or the “warm referral”? Give what you’d like to get.
Happy networking, and thanks for listening!
David Coblitz – The St. Louis Artographer