If you’re selling, marketing or running a business, you probably already do and should have many channels and methods for getting customers. The best ones connect the dots from their ads to website to social media to everything else they do to get attention and move people to buy.
It takes from 7 to 12 or more impressions (fancy marketing talk for them seeing your brand) before people even recognize you.
But by far, the easiest way to get a customer is…
To have someone that person knows, likes and trusts recommend you to them. To get a referral.
In a moment I’ll tell you how social media makes this even simpler and faster. But before I tell you how to fish, I need to tell you more about the why you should fish…
A referral will convert to a customer faster and easier than any other advertising or marketing method available to you. In most instances there is no bidding and no need to use awkward sales methods. The trust is transferred from the person referring them to you.
Think about yourself. If I say I’m awesome and you have no clue who I am; will you buy my stuff? Probably not.
What about if your most trusted friend tells you he’s used me and I’m a superstar? Much better chance, yes?
So how do we get referrals?
The first way is to do amazing work for your clients and community. If they are happy with you, they will refer you. I assume you’re already doing that…
The other way is to get out there and network. This means meeting people, getting to know them and helping them (not selling them).
The more people you know, the farther you go. Get out into the world and give freely of yourself. Meaning you don’t go out to try and make a sale… you go out to build relationships. These lead to referrals and sales later once they know, like and trust you.
How can you help?
Here’s the simple recipe I’ve followed for years:
1: Ask questions and then listen. Don’t worry about talking about yourself. You can’t listen and talk at the same time. When it’s time for you to talk, keep it short and sweet. Thirty to sixty seconds is plenty.
2: Find out what the other person needs. If you can; help them. They may need an introduction to someone else you know. They may need a recommendation for a book. They made need a tip on a new business coming into town. Listen carefully and match their needs if you have a match (don’t force it or fake it).
3: Continually grow the relationship. Follow up. You met them once… good for you. Now continue to build the relationship and get to know them better. Continue to help them, when you can, in big or little ways.
4: Don’t keep score. If you’re in it for you, you’re going to lose. The magic of networking is that the more you give, the more you get. Trust me…
Extra credit: Referrals come from the darnedest places. Sometimes places you’d least expect. The trick is to be strategic, keep doing it and treat everyone the same whether they are a CEO or an administrative assistant.
I won’t lie, networking is a lot of work. You have to take the time to do it. But it’s well worth the effort.
Don’t just collect business cards
Want to build your network fast? Go to Meetups, Chambers of Commerce events, etc. There are plenty of opportunities almost every day to meet new people.
Each week on Sunday I review the cards from the prior week. I then make sure to connect with them.
I bet you have a big collection of business cards somewhere. What are you waiting for?
As I mentioned earlier, social media makes networking easier than ever before. If you believe in networking you should be super excited about what social media offers.
How to network with Social Media
Finding people and places to network and meet people is at your fingertips 24/7. Just open up Facebook, LinkedIn, forums, groups, or virtually anywhere online your ideal referral partner, customers and prospects hang out.
The hard part is applying the same rules as real life networking. The mistake I see people make over and over again is they treat social media as a broadcasting tool.
Broadcasting on social media is talking. The secret to success with networking is to listen first. And remember, you can’t do that if you’re talking.
Here’s how do you do it
1: Connect with people. But now you don’t need to leave the house. Friend request them.
2: Participate. Become a member of groups. Share, comment and like posts you see on your newsfeed or in groups (but only if you value what they are saying. Don’t share just to share). The fastest way to get on someone’s radar is to share their stuff. Sharing is caring.
3: Connect deeper. Private message people you want to get to know better. Talk to them one-to-one. TALK to them… don’t SELL them. Private messaging is one of the most powerful, when used properly, networking tools on social media.
4: Get physical. If they are local, arrange a meeting. Have lunch. If they are not, meet on Skype or any number of video conference tools. But do it in a way you can look each other in the eye.
Then, just follow the networking recipe I shared above.
Use social media as a networking tool instead of a broadcast tool and you’ll grow your network faster than ever before.