“When you focus on referrals instead of advertising, you’ll generate more business and retain more clients,” says Brennan Scanlon, executive director in the Greater Cincinnati region for business networking organization Business Network International (BNI). “But you can’t buy that. You have to work for it.”
Developing a referral network is a good place to start. Here are three great tips to get you started:
Rehearse icebreakers. Make networking events easier by practicing conversation-starters ahead of time, suggests Scott Eisenberg, founder and CEO of Swap the Biz, a company that organizes networking events where business owners can exchange referrals. “A simple question is, ‘Have you ever been to one of these events before?’” he says, adding that movies, travel and weather are other good icebreakers.
Engage event organizers. Because they’re there to facilitate, event organizers are less intimidating than attendees, according to Eisenberg, who recommends contacting the organizers in advance of a networking event to tell them how much you’re looking forward to it. “When you get to the event you can ask for the organizers and say, ‘Hey, remember me? I sent you an email,’ and they’ll probably introduce you to other people,” he says.
Give a gift. Most businesspeople are afraid to ask for referrals because they feel guilty taking from relationships, according to referral marketing strategist Steve Gordon, author of Unstoppable Referrals: 10x Referrals, Half the Effort. An easy solution, he says, is giving to relationships, instead, by distributing a tangible product that contains educational information that referring clients can share with their network. “By packaging all their knowledge and wisdom in this form, it is perceived as a high-value gift when the client passes it along,” Gordon says.
Get more great information on building a strong referral network by reading the full article in the Fall 2016 issue of Massage Therapy Journal.