If you are familiar with my methods, then you know I always recommend networking groups, and BNI in particular. This powerful international group helped me learn how to network and fill my practice quickly by meeting lots of new people and gaining referrals.
However, many students have shared their concerns about the referral process. This is particularly true if you are just starting out as a new business owner. Often new business owners worry about their ability to provide referrals and the expectations around this. I have frequently mentioned that the strength of the referral network you create is usually based on the number of referrals you provide. Truth is, I had this same concern when I started out years ago.
Let me share three reasons why you can let go of the fear and take the pressure off yourself as you learn how to network:
1. You’ll Be Making Friends.
As you take time to get to know people in your BNI chapter, they will become your friends. You are going to sit down and have coffee with the individuals and really get to know them. That alone makes the process a lot easier and less pressurized. Building your business connections expands your reach and increases your opportunities for success.
2. You’ll Learn Who Networkers Are Seeking.
As you get to know group members, you’ll ask each person who they are looking for. Ask questions like, “So, tell me about the kind of clients you’re looking for. What’s the thing you want me to say or listen for that is a buzz word that would put me in a position to give you a referral? What is the best thing I can say to people to interest them in your products or services?”
Many members will have specific words you can use which will make the referral process go much more smoothly.
3. You’ll Find Giving Referrals Becomes Natural.
Talking about referrals with other members gets your mental rolodex flipping as you think about who you may know that could benefit from their service or product. But running into these possible referrals – whether they are people you already know or new people you will meet – doesn’t happen instantly. It takes time and everyone involved knows this.
You aren’t expected to start dishing out referrals straight out of the gate. But, the more you network, the more people you meet. As you talk to them, their needs will naturally come out in conversation. So your job is really to listen for those natural opportunities and connect people looking for each other.
Also, keep in mind there maybe people in the group whose services you will want to take advantage of yourself. Having a personal experience of working with them makes it easier to refer others.
When it comes to receiving referrals, you need to have a strong elevator pitch, know who your ideal client is and how to relate to them. The easier you make it for others to recognize your ideal clients, the more referrals you will get. Spend time figuring out who your ideal client is and how to relay that to others as you learn how to network and give referrals.