Last week, we looked at five of the biggest questions advisors, both young and old, have about networking. Today, I’ll answer five more questions, from how to find prospects among your circle of acquaintances to how to partner with other professionals.
1. How do I convert casual acquaintances to business prospects? There is no surefire way. Remember, a prospect is someone that is already interested in doing business with you. So the best way to at least have a shot of talking about business is to ask people you meet about the type of work they do. They will ask you in return. The more questions you ask about their work, the more you will probably be asked about yours. This is where your elevator pitch and target market come in handy. It will make you more referable. And remember; don’t try to sell them, at least not on the first date. Think networking! By default, some may actually become prospects.
2. What’s the best way to ask “not sure if happy” clients for referrals? My initial concern is why you’re not sure if your clients are happy. You may want to resolve this uncertainty first. Simply reach out to a sampling of your clients and ask them why they are, in fact, your clients. Find out why they’re happy and how you might make them even happier. Happy clients are the first step in cultivating referral relationships.
3. How can I get more referrals from clients? No way around it here, Sparky. You must ask them. But they must be thrilled with you first. Assuming they are, simply ask how you might go about referring one another business. If they’re not in business themselves, ask how you can help one another in your respective work. You must ask the question and form a “we” relationship. If it’s not “we” focused, the relationship will always feel strained and your overtures will always feel awkward and forced.
4. How do I work with other professionals? First, what type of professional are you seeking? A CPA? An attorney? (What type?) A banker? You’ll need to figure out what professions are most attractive to you and, when networking, look to meet people that work in that profession. “I’m looking to be introduced to a CPA that is interested in a mutually beneficial referral relationship.” Where do you need to go to make that happen?
5. I’m a president of an education foundation for a school district. How do I start reaching out to local members in the community and turn this into business? You never want to compromise your role in any organization. A conflict of interest helps nobody. But you may be able to approach those you know the best about getting together offline and talking shop (e.g. “How can we help one another?”). In some cases, networking connections will transform into prospects.
The key to networking is language. Language drives conversations. Conversations drive actions. Actions drive relationships. So, networking develops relationships. If you focus on the relationships, the business will be there.
Did I answer your question? If you have questions about networking strategies, generating more referrals, and how to make better connections with your clients or prospects, reach out and let me know. I'll do my best to work it in to an upcoming blog.
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