When it comes to referrals, we would all like to differentiate ourselves to stand out from the crowd and be the first one our clients and colleagues think of when they have an opportunity to refer and introduce an interested prospect.
Referrals which come from ‘word of mouth’ and ‘who knows who’ are always rated as the number one approach for finding new opportunities and beating out all of the other marketing channels combined.
I believe that the simple maxim “It’s better to give than receive” holds the key to our referral success. For centuries this has been sound advice. From the Bible’s command to “love your neighbor as yourself” to sales trainer extraordinaire, the late, great Zig Ziegler’s key principle that “you can have everything in life you want if you will just help enough other people get what they want”, Being a giving person not only feels good, it also is a gateway to success. Do you believe that? It seems to run so counter-cultural to the business climate many experience on a daily basis. Is there a way to “swim with the sharks” without becoming one? I believe there is, and the long-term health-(figuratively and literally) of referrals depend on this.
Here are a few practical tips one can do to genuinely be more of a giver when working with others.
Give Away You Possessions
Sometimes it is appropriate to show appreciation with a gift. Sending a gift sets you apart and finding something that uniquely suites the individual helps build solid relationships. It says, “I know you and care enough to think about what you might enjoy”. Sometimes it’s appropriate to send a gift even when the sale or project doesn’t come to fruition. When you appreciate the effort someone has made on your behalf, feel free to send a small token of your gratitude. A friend of mine, Sue who is a Realtor loves to, send flowers. She was recently approached by an organization she had never worked with before on a project and they wanted to co-broke with her for their client. In the end they weren’t able make the sale, however Sue sent over some flowers to say “thanks” for thinking of her. In the meantime, they signed on a client with a very desirable property yet didn’t have any immediate prospects in their own pool of buyers. The first person outside their agency they thought of was Sue, and they gave her the listing exclusively for a time before making it available to other agents.
Give Away Your Expertise
Share your skills and experience happy in the knowledge that you are helping friends and colleagues. Others appreciate and seek out knowledgeable people who give generously of their expertise. When you have been a resource to others, people are more willing to help you when you ask. My client Joan is a good example of this. Joan is a resource for everything from a good printer to a good hairdresser. She always goes out of her way to help others, and when someone needs something they call Joan. It was no surprise that when Joan lost her job due to a downsizing a few years ago, she only had to make two calls to some pals and she was back at work in no time with a better and more prestigious position!
Give Away Your Time
When you are involved in your industry’s community, you will meet more people, make more contacts, get to know those in the organization better, and your network will expand faster. There are several ways to do this. Consider some of these for your next conference or convention.
Volunteer to be the “greeter” when people are registering. This is a great way to meet others and this simple act of hospitality helps you to connect with people later. If you just attend meetings, you will limit your ability to meet and get to know members of the organization, so join a committee and get involved. When you work on projects that are not directly job-related, you’ll invariably build relationships. These people will often become those whom you will rely on and they on you when it does come time to get the job done.
Give a speech
Organizations are always looking for programs or breakout sessions for larger meetings or conventions. Perhaps you can put together a seminar about your specific area of expertise or share a simple technique you’ve successfully used to close more business. Putting together a quality presentation can take up a good bit of time, yet after you’ve done your research, come up with case studies and polished it up, you’ll find that in a small way you’ve become an expert on your topic. Keep learning every day. I find a learn something new daily on the different topics and subject matter I am interested in. When others see the time you’ve invested for their benefit, they will recognize an individual who not only takes pride in their work, they will also see someone who is willing to go the extra mile for them. After you’ve done your presentation, go one step further and offer to write an article for the organization’s newsletter or magazine on the same topic. This is a key way for people, especially those new to the organization, to be able to remember who you are. Not only will you get connected with the other professionals who read your article, you will also have the chance to meet other contributors and the behind-the-scene members who keep the organization fresh and alive.
Being a giver is the highway to success, yet it can be filled with some rocky roads. It often appears much safer to just take care of our own needs, especially in such a competitive environment, where unfortunate as it is, not everyone plays by the rules. Over the long haul however, you’ll attract like-minded people who could become your best associates, and even some of your best friends and clients.