Who is your advocate? Your clients can be. In business, strategic networking is a necessary and critical skill for finding and developing new clients and retaining those you have. It's also an opportunity to create advocates for your business and for your life. These advocates will be your best sales and marketing champions because they know and respect you. They are the people we have worked hard to build and strengthen strong relationships with.
Often we do much of the nurturning with those in our life unconsciously. It is almost part of our DNA. (Dedicated Networking Always)
Take a look at some of the potential advocates who you might also consider:
- The satisfied client:. Where else could you find a better advocate? Though anyone might feel hesitant to ask for a referral, there are ways to make asking easier. For instance, ask for feedback after you have provided a product or service. When you receive a positive nod, suggest you would be "happy to work with anyone else whom they could recommend." They are the people who are perfect for creating a strategic introduction with someone from their network.
- Your team: Everyone from new intern up should be aware that they are an ambassador for spreading the word about your company. Smart networkers know to build relationships and alliances with those who are not only above them organizationally, they also build down, sideways, and across. This is a key point. Keep in touch with receptionists, office administrative people, and those in other departments to stay informed of leads they may develop for you. Think how can I be of help to them and what can I learn. I have many stories on how relationships built over the years with people who were not necessarily my 'point of contact' turned into my best advocates and continue to do so. It is a 2 way street. We all help each other.
- Colleagues in business: In today’s specialized world, many of the contacts you make in your industry will refer business to you because you specialize in an area that is needed. Fine tune a 20-second “infomercial” about your services or products that will “stick” with people long after the conversation has concluded. More on this in another Nugget.
- Friends and neighbors: You work hard at building friendships based on mutual trust and respect. As you find out more about your friends’ and neighbors’ work, you’ll want to help them, and over time, they will most likely want to help you if they can. Always put the relationship first when networking with personal connections. Yet, always be aware that opportunities come up in places you may least expect!
Of course, even when you’ve developed advocates, you still need to market yourself directly to prospects and clients. When your advocates open the door for you, you must stay in there and move the project to the next level. The more advocates who believe in you, the more convincing they’ll be with new opportunities for you. Make a list of your advocates and get a plan together to cultivate these relationships starting today! Start recording all the information into your “Information Bank” or in a database that you prefer and continue to update this. Every call, email, or meeting is an opportunity to learn more and you can never learn too much about your strategic advocates.
***Bonus tip on the Power of the Handwritten note—Just this morning after my walk, the postman was at my building very early. As our new delivery executive of the USPS, I wanted to introduce myself to him and as we started talking, I told him that I was the one who always will have a lot of outbound cards for him to pick up. I then told him about my Power of 3- and to write 3 handwritten notes a day… Or at least one. He was delighted and said- “You should take this to management at the USPS and advertise it—what a difference it would make in people’s lives, if every day they reached out to one person with a personal touch.”
I told him- I had tried to reach the management of the post office and that now “Tom” is my new advocate there. Although we may not make headlines for this nationally, I did let him know that I would let my own personal network know in this week’s nugget.
Write a note today to an advocate, friend, client, prospect or loved one. You will make a difference.