From The Desk Of:
Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Referral Lead Generation
"How To Network For Business
Using Business Referral Groups
And Referral Systems."
What is referral lead generation?
"Referral lead generation" is the process of networking with people who are willing to refer business to you. Bob burg, the author of the book "Endless Referrals" and a respected expert on the subject, defines "networking" as the following:
"Networking is the cultivating of mutually beneficial, give-and-take, win-win relationships."
As human beings, we live in a world where we come into contact with all sorts of people - some we get along with, some we avoid and some do not really give us a choice in the matter. Our family and friends are known as our "circle of influence." Under normal circumstances, they generally consist out of people that know and like us; and would like to see us succeed.
Each one of them have, in turn, their own circle of influence. Each member of their circle of influence might be someone who would be willing to do business with you or possibly become your next networking contact... However, it is their circle of influence after all - you simply have no business making contact until your friend decides to refer and introduce to them to you.
The problem is that most people are self-interested - we care more about what happens to us, than what happens to others. Sure, sometimes we go out of our way for those we care about, but that is more the exception than the rule. Now, at the end of the day there is really nothing wrong with it... We have our own lives to live and we have to deal with situations as effectively as possible - we simply cannot go around ignoring our own needs, because then we start contributing to the problem instead of the solution.
Once in a while a person might pop out of nowhere and think of you when referring business. However, most of the time people will be too occupied dealing with their own problems - even if they care about you. This is the reason that you need a system in place to accomplish referral lead generation - you have to make sure that you stay in the minds of your contacts.
This can be accomplished by periodically mailing memo pads to your clients that contain your photo and contact details; or simply sending articles that might be of interest to them, along with one of your business cards. There are many ways to go about it - just be creative.
Referral lead generation involves forming win-win relationships with your contacts. Have you ever felt that someone was taking advantage of you? For instance, have you ever done work for someone that was actually worth a lot more than you got paid for it? It might have been your fault for misjudging a quote and you may have written it off to experience - however, the work probably ended up being quite a drag to finish. And when your heart is not in it, it becomes really tough to give your best.
You want your networking contacts to gain as much from their relationship with you, as you are gaining from being associated with them. This could take any form, but usually ends up in the form of referrals for them. Some relationships are simply better suited towards win-win than others though.
For instance, if I was a personal trainer and you sold fitness supplements - we would be a perfect match, since my clients would need your services as well as vice-versa. Our industries would overlap, but not so much that we would be competition to each other - in fact, it would mean that we have something in common to talk about and discuss: fitness.
Business referral groups
Another method of referral lead generation is to start your own, or to join an established "Business Referral Group" - also known as a "Networking Group" or a "Breakfast Club." Basically, a Business Referral Group gives you the chance to get to know people from different industries who are also interested in referral lead generation themselves.
Usually membership is restricted to one person per industry - in other words, there will only be one Estate Agent, only one Network Marketer and only one Web Designer. This ensures that you have exclusivity and that you remain the obvious choice for any referrals related to your industry, within the group.
People only do business with those they know, like and trust. A business referral group gives you a chance to get to know the other members on a weekly basis and helps you to strengthen your relationship with them. Referring business is more comfortable, since all the other members are there for the same reason you are: referral lead generation.
Along with some friends, I have started my own group that meets on Wednesday mornings. Even if you do not refer any business to each other, it really helps to meet with and pick the brains of other business owners - there is always something interesting to discuss. And even though, at the time of writing this, the group is fairly small, we have referred quite a fair amount of business to each other. Not only that
Feel free to have a look at the web site for our local Business Referral Group if you are from Port Elizabeth, South Africa - or any of the cities possibly listed on the site. We would love to hear from you!
At the top of this page, I made a reference to a quote from Bob Burg's excellent book, "Endless Referrals." I believe it to be the single best resource on referral lead generation ever written. If you want to find out more, feel free to have a look at the "Trainers And Resources" section.