1.0 Concepts

Referral Education >> Each section contains key Action Items located within the downloadable Action Guide >> Click to Download Action Guide.

Networking For Referrals

Mike Macedonio reveals the secrets of Truth or Delusion, a New York Time’s Best-Seller book.

Mike wrote the book with Dr. Ivan Misner and Mike Garrison—he’ll now share their lessons with you.

It is our goal to lay to rest some of the myths about networking and in doing so, address some of the assumptions and conventional wisdom about networking, word of mouth, and referral marketing that we think should be examined.

If you ask the average businessperson what one of the most important ways to build their business is they will tell you “word of mouth.”  Yet, we don’t teach this in colleges and universities around the world.  We give people bachelor’s degrees in business and yet they have no idea how to build their business through word of mouth because it’s not part of the curriculum of virtually any college in the world.  Is it any wonder that there are many delusions about networking, referral marketing and word of mouth?

In the lessons that follow, we’ll lay out a series of statements that people have made about networking, and then we’ll ask you to decide whether each statement is a truth or a delusion. As you read on, you’ll find that some of our answers are fairly obvious to you; others will surprise you. And some—well, you may find yourself in total disagreement with us. That’s okay. Just look for the kernel of truth. With almost half a century of combined experience in business networking, the authors of Truth or Delusion have had a lot of hands-on opportunities to tackle these ideas.

You’ll find that we often use the terms networking, word of mouth, and referral marketing interchangeably. Don’t let this upset you. We know there are subtle but important differences, because we have built entire businesses around these principles. However, for this class, we are using all three terms in the general sense of referral marketing, in which networking is vital and word of mouth plays an important part.

Are you ready? Let’s begin with the first “Truth or Delusion?

1.0    CONCEPTS

1.1 If you provide good customer service, people will refer business to you. Delusion

Good customer service is a prerequisite. It’s a minimum expectation.

Think about it. Would you refer somebody to me if I provided lousy customer service? Of course not, you would end up looking like a dope in the eyes of the prospect. Your own credibility would suffer.

Good customer service is part of what the prospect expects when you refer him to me. If you’re recommending me to him, I must be something pretty special, right? And good customer service is the minimum. I’ll need to provide great, outstanding, memorable customer service to really stand out and keep that customer coming back.

People don’t refer you because you meet minimum expectations. They refer you because they expect you to do a good job, which enhances their relationship with the person they are referring.  They may not even be doing business with you, so customer service may not even be an issue with them personally—but of course they expect you to provide outstanding value to the prospect. They want the prospect to come back to them and say, “Thanks for sending me to Joe Gold. He had just what I needed, and the service was great. You sure know some outstanding people!”

Your referral source has a strong interest in making sure everyone comes out a winner. She knows that when the happy customer comes back to you again and again, you’re more likely to send business her way when the need arises. The great service you provide to the customer comes back to you in the form of a stronger relationship with your referral partner.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

What are three ideas that you could implement to exceed customer service expectations?

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What specific steps will you take to make the referrer look good when referring your business?

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1.2 To be good at referral marketing, you have to be a real “people person.”  Delusion

The only people who can’t profit from networking or referral marketing are those who don’t like people at all. But these are people who are not likely to be entrepreneurs or involved in sales of some kind in the first place. Most of them will be in careers that allow them to work alone in a back room where they don’t have to come in contact with people. They’re not going to be out there drumming up business.

Most people who have started their own business and who depend directly on others buying their products or services have at least a certain comfort level in dealing with people. They may not be outgoing or gregarious, but they can form meaningful relationships and communicate their ideas. A lot of people are like that, and for them, referral marketing is the best way to build their business, because referral marketing is marketing through relationships.

Networking is about building relationships. Even introverts (or should we say especially introverts) have relationships. The type of networking we recommend can actually be easier for the introvert than for the extrovert. The extrovert wants to talk about himself; the introvert wants other people to talk. This is perfect when it comes to building relationships. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionally. A good networker asks questions and gets to know the other person.

So, if you’re introverted, stop using that as an excuse not to network. Introverts, who understand this concept, are more naturally adept than extroverts at the art of networking because they are comfortable listening to other people, which helps them make true long-term connections with others.

Networking is a skill set that can be learned—no matter your level of gregariousness. If you remain ill at ease in environments where you have to mix and mingle or meet new people, we recommend that you take advantage of some of the many training seminars and workshops that teach you how to network effectively. You’ll find that when you learn ways to handle these situations, you’ll become more relaxed and confident in a networking setting.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

How would you assess yourself?  Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

You may also find that you are a situational extrovert. This means that you are naturally an introvert, however in certain environments you can adapt to be more extroverted.

Are there referral relationships that you have discounted because they are introverts?

List their names.

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Where will you use the principle of two ears and one mouth when networking?

List 3 upcoming networking events that you will attend and apply this principle.

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1.3     You don’t know “who” they know. Truth

What does this mean? Simply that we don’t walk around wearing signs with the names of everyone we know on them. It would probably shock you to learn about some of the influential people your best friend knows but hasn’t told you about. You can’t assume that your friend, acquaintance, or referral partner doesn’t have powerful contacts that can help you, or your business, in important ways.

Never underestimate the depth of the pool your fellow networkers are swimming in.

The value that you bring to a referral network or to a strategic alliance is directly related to the number of relationships you have and the quality of those relationships. In a typical referral networking group of 20 to 40 people, the number of referrals that could be created, among all the possible contacts within one or two degrees of separation, is almost incalculable. It does not take a corporate executive to connect you with another corporate executive, or a rich person to introduce you to another rich, influential person. That’s not the way the world works even though sometimes it may appear to be that way.

ACTION ITEMS: Complete the Action Items in your Action Guide.

List three influential contacts that you have dismissed as referral sources?

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Create laser specific requests of the people by name you would like to get referred to.

I would like an introduction to:

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Create laser specific requests of companies by name you would like to get referred to.

I would like an introduction to ________and meet with _________ (CEO, CFO, CTO, etc.):

1)       and meet with:

2)       and meet with:

3)       and meet with:

4)       and meet with:

Assist your referral sources by providing a clear description of your specific request.

Provide a spoken or written description to your referral source… Write it below.

“Who do you know that…?”

Describe below a situation of someone who would need your product or service.  You may describe a previous customer’s need and how you provided a solution to their need.

Take the specific requests to your referral sources to make your targeted requests.

Next — 2.0 Referral Sources »