Most business owners and budding entrepreneurs carry around enough wisdom and “famous onliners” to fill a book.  Whether any of them apply that hard won knowledge is debatable.  Of course most don’t .  One old adage is “it’s not what you know but whom you know” or a more recent example “it’s not who you

Most business owners and budding entrepreneurs carry around enough wisdom and “famous onliners” to fill a book.  Whether any of them apply that hard won knowledge is debatable.  Of course most don’t .  One old adage is “it’s not what you know but whom you know” or a more recent example “it’s not who you know but who they know”.  In these social media obsessed times who you know and who they know is becoming a top draw business ingredient once again. It is this concept that has the multi-billion dollar companies falling over themselves to leverage social media, and many of them are crashing and burning.

The art of networking and referals has been a key tool of many successful business owners in recent years.  They understood the important rule that people have a ‘sphere of influence’ or in other words people know people.  And also that according to Joe Girard and Girard’s Law the sphere of influence actually numbers 250 people.  A leap further and consider that each of those 250 know their own 250.  The maths gets big and the business implication very interesting .

That’s all very well but how make money from all this relationship building?  Well it becomes a bit easier to understand when you appreciate one more important guiding principle.  It is the same principle that is driving a large amount of business momentum in social media and places such as Facebook today.  It is simply that people prefer to do business with and refer business to people they like and trust.  Do the advert weary customers of today tend to trust big corporations?  Typically not.  So when the wade in online and ‘sell’ to their ‘network’ they fail. 

To build your sales and lead funnel you have to develop a network of trust.  That trust is created by good humour and good results.  In other words you get happy customers that remember you and like you, and refer you to good prospects in their sphere . 

It can be difficult to tell a good lead from a bad lead even if it comes from a good friendly customer.  Therefore you develop a system of handling your leads and you treat them all the same – well!  The results will come, don’t force it.

So how can you build this network of friendly customers that will eventually be falling over themselves to bring you in quality referals.  Here are a couple of tactics that work well.

There are prospects everywhere in everyday life.  If you bump into a potential customer at the local PTA introduce yourself and find out everything about them.  Develop the “art of great questioning” and the “art of listening”.  Most people can’t help but just talk about themselves and how interesting they are. Remember the 1st law of business – nobody cares about you.  Then once they have told you about their business ask them what a good prospect for their business would look like.  Grab their card and a later on follow up with either a prospect or a little note with a newpaper cutting or similar about their industry.  This one way relationship can eventually go two way and that can bring business your way.

Secondly get your best customers, those that spend the most or are the most loyal and set up a networking social event and get them to invite guests from their business network. Be careful not to bring in multiple customers as their guests might end up poaching your customers.   If you have high price goods and services then this sort of time and financial investment can work well.  Maybe run some corporate golf events and to make them memorable hand out golf gifts at the end such as some promotional golf umbrellas marking the day and what you do

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