Networking Rx: Antti Leijala – Guest Interview (EPS 028)
Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, interviews Antti Leijala, author and entrepreneur based in Finland who provides “ultra lean” business consulting to small and micro businesses worldwide (www.ultraleanbusiness.com).
Establishing relationships is an important first step. In so doing, you have built a network of people who are really behind you. Again, they know, like and trust you. This alone does not create a referral machine, however. Before your network can refer you, they need to be empowered. Empowered to recognize opportunities for you as well as empowered to talk or communicate about you.
People within your network do not magically know how to refer you. First, they need to know who to refer you to and they need to know when to refer you. To make this happen, it is entirely up to you to empower them to recognize these opportunities.
Consider franchise brokerage (though this applies to any business or profession). Certainly if someone comes out and says, “I am looking to buy a franchise”, your network should know to think of and refer you. But what about all the times that someone could be a great client but does not say they are looking to buy a franchise (or they do not even know that franchise ownership is an option)?
– What about the person whose spouse is looking to have their own business?
– What about the displaced executive who might not be interested in getting back into the grind?
– What about the mid-level manager that wants a way out of the grind?
If you want to create a referral machine, it is your job to paint a picture in the minds of your network as to who is a good referral candidate and what is a good situation. Here are three great ways to do this.
1) Develop a series of short 30-second commercials that concisely convey what you are looking for and what you do. Again, develop a series, so that you have a varied message. Write these out and practice them, then use them as often as possible. For help on this find the short series on 30-second commercials.
2) Even if you have a great 30-second commercial, people are not going to fully remember what you have to say. To overcome this, develop (again) a series of short summaries outlining what you are looking for. Make these short and simple (so simple that a 5th grader could understand them). Then neatly type and print them out (or even have them professionally printed) so you can quickly and easily hand them out, mail, or e-mail them to your network.
3) If you give people the basic facts, they might politely listen. But if you weave these facts within a compelling story, example or analogy, they will be enthralled by what you have to say. If you have experiences, share them. If you do not have experiences, then talk to someone who does and borrow theirs. If you have neither experience nor access to someone who does, make it up. In this situation, it is not stealing to make someone else’s experiences your own. It is not lying to craft a story that has not occurred. You are doing this to paint a picture of what a good referral looks like.
In Part 6, we will address empowering your referral machine.
Networking Rx: Reclaiming Lost Networking Potential (EPS 027)
No doubt, circumstances push people out of our lives. In this episode, Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, maintains that these people are still within our network and that there is social capital to reclaim.
Networking Rx: Tom Anderson – Guest Interview (EPS 026)
Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, interviews Tom Anderson, president and founder of Excelleweb … a company devoted to combining outstanding marketing practices with cutting edge Internet technologies.
Okay, there are lots of potential people with whom to establish a relationship. What about the “HOW”? How can you make this happen?
Yes, there are lots of people. That is generally not the problem. That is seldom people’s shortcoming in creating a referral machine. It is the “how” that trips people up.
In establishing relationships, there are three main categories of activities you need to consider making part of your personal regimen. (1) Giving or adding value to others; (2) Ensuring that you become involved; and (3) Making sure that you are dependable or reliable in what you say and do.
First, when people hear the term “GIVING TO OTHERS”, they tend to conjure up images of dragging out their wallets. That is not the case at all. There are lots of things you can do in giving or adding value to others.
o Doing business with others.
o Sending them referrals.
o Providing them with information.
o Spurring them on.
o Introducing them to others.
Each of these things adds value to others. The key part of all of this, however, is that when you add value to others, they cannot help but feel they know you, like you, and trust you. And somehow, they are quietly compelled to return the deed at some point in time.
Second, another means of establishing relationships is getting involved with your community.
Trust this, no matter where you live there are business groups, charities and civic initiatives that could use your time, talent and energy. When you get involved in your community, it raises your level of exposure and it demonstrates your commitment. With these things, people cannot help but feel they know you, like you and trust you, which is exactly what you need to start establishing relationships and to create a referral machine.
Finally, adding value and getting involved are great for establishing relationships. You, however, will undermine the entire process if you are not reliable. With even an innocent infraction of unreliability, you can kill your chances of getting referrals. Be reliable … be on time … do what you say… follow-up, as you promise. And if for some reason you are unable to do these things, alert the person who might be relying on you as soon as possible.
This may all seem like common sense. It is. However, it is not common practice. It has tripped up even those with the best of intentions. Guard against this.
Nevertheless, once you have these relationships established, you can start to put your referral machine to work. That is the subject of Part 5.
Networking Rx: Networking Works Examples (EPS 025)
Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, routinely says, “Networking Works … but it just doesn’t work how, when or where you want it to.” In this episode, he shares real life examples to this mantra in action.
Networking Rx: Mark Keating – Guest Interview (EPS 024)
Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, interviews Mark Keating, a marketing professional who brings years of experience in print, billboard and broadcast media to the electronic world through his involvement with Locallogy.
The important first step to creating a referral machine is establishing relationships. This all begs two important questions: (1) WITH WHOM should I establish these relationships? And then even more importantly, (2) HOW do I go about establishing these relationships?
As to WITH WHOM you should establish relationships, there is no magic or secrets. They are all around you. First, start with the people you already know. Why? The people you already know, presumably already like and trust you. Far too often, when people embark on creating a referral machine, they become fixated on people they have never met before.
Think about it. You know tons of people right now – friends from the community or school, former colleagues, existing or past clients. This represents a treasure trove of raw materials with which to work.
Second, develop a list of strategic partners. Ask yourself this – who are the people that do not compete with you, but who run in the circles where you would like to be running? What is the profile of a good potential client for you and who might be servicing them?
Third, everyone is connected. Everyone knows someone who might be a good potential referral for you (although they may not realize it). This is not to say that you need to establish a relationship with everyone. What it does say, though, is do not dismiss anyone. Give everyone attention and respect.
A successful part of networking is aligning yourself with various groups and organizations. In this episode, Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, shares his own experiences and how “just belonging” is not enough to reap maximum benefits.
Just because you want this referral machine does not mean that you get it. You have to build it using a three-step process to do so.
You start by establishing relationships.
Then within those relationships (which is essentially a network of people), you empower them to not just understand what you do, but how to talk about it.
Finally, you remain in continual contact to appropriately guide and re-adjust the process. Yes, this takes work, but in the end the rewards far outpace the effort.
The foundation on which you will create a referral machine is the relationships you have with others. This is the most important point: people do business with and refer business to those that they know, like and trust. Those who get the most and best referrals are simply those who have the best relationships. They are widely known, highly liked, and implicitly trusted.
We will cover this process in greater detail starting in Part 3.