Becoming a Referral Superstar: Asking For Referrals So You Actually RECEIVE Referrals!! (Part 2 of 2)

by Sabrina Risley

Last month, I shared Part One on how to become a Referral Superstar, so you can build a referral network that actually delivers referrals. I shared WHY you want to use referrals to build your business, WHO your potential referral partners are, and asked you to be specific in WHAT you are looking for in a referral.

If you’ve completed your “homework,” you are now ready to move on.  If not, be sure to Read Part One first.  Referral Superstars, let’s talk about WHEN and HOW to ask for referrals.

W #4 = When

Once you know who to ask and you’ve identified what to specifically ask for, knowing when to ask is crucial. Asking a contact too soon can feel like asking someone to marry you on a first date.

It’s never too late to ask for referrals once you’ve:

  • Established rapport,
  • Formed a trusting relationship,
  • Ensured them you will take care any contacts they send your way.

A great time to ask for referrals is right after you’ve successfully completed work and you’ve delivered excellent customer service resulting in a very satisfied customer. This customer is in a state of gratitude and appreciation for the work you’ve completed for them and they are ready to share that experience with others. For example, as an insurance agent, you just wrote a new policy for a client and saved them $200 per year. This is the perfect time to ASK for a referral!

Within your network and circle of influence, when to ask can be a little tricky. As we’ve said before, asking too soon can be damaging to the relationship. Most people need to see or hear from you an average of 7 to 9 times before they feel confident and comfortable with you and your products or services. To speed up rapport building and trust, make a habit of reaching out to your contacts consistently. Create a plan of contact.

If in doubt, wait it out. Consider the number of quality “touches” you’ve made with this person, if it’s less than five, enlist a few more measures to ensure you are establishing rapport, trust, and confidence. Perhaps you can pick up the phone and ask what they most need right now, take them to coffee or have lunch after a networking event, or even send a referral or connection their way. Individuals with Bob Burg’s Go-Giver® mentality receive the most.

How:

Once you know who your referral sources are, you’ve identified what a good prospect looks like and you know when to ask, you are ready to actually ask for the referral. Asking for referrals can be intimidating, but if you’ve followed the instructions on when to ask, your request will be well-received.

Here is how to phrase the question.

  • Start by asking an open ended question. Instead of asking “Do you know anyone?” ask, “Who do you know?”
  • To increase your chance of receiving referrals, use the specifics about what your ideal referral looks like. The more general you are, the harder it is for people to recall someone in need of your service. However, if you ask for a specific referral like, “Who do you know that is currently looking to move out of state and sell their home?” people can more readily pinpoint who in their network fits into that specific scenario.

Here are a few more examples to consider:

Realtor: “Who do you know in your wine club that is getting ready to retire within the next two years?”

Marketing:  “Who do you know in Littelton that is struggling to build their business using online marketing strategies?”

Financial Planner: “Who do you know in the Denver metro area that is a higher level executive and recently switched companies?” (You see, they might need their 401k managed).

Here’s another example of how to ask for referrals.  In his book, Endless ReferralsBob Burg suggests, “Anne, I’m in the process of expanding my referral business, and I find it’s helpful to partner with my clients and friends such as you. Could we take a few quick minutes to run past the names of some people I might also be able to help?”

Practice asking for referrals and find the words that work for you. But simply asking for referrals sets you apart from 90% of the professionals within your industry.  All you need to do is follow the Why, Who, What, When and How, and you’ll soon become a Referral Superstar.

For related reading, see also our Janauary 2011 post, The Most Important Factor to Receiving Referrals = YOU!

(c) 2012 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include Sabrina Risley’s Bio information below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Sabrina Risley founded Behind The Moon, Inc.® in 2003, a Colorado-based networking organization that sets itself apart with its motto “grow your business by helping others grow theirs.” Behind The Moon offers several networking events across Colorado’s Front Range that attract professionals who network to give rather than get. You will find Sabrina speaking to audiences about effective networking techniques, the power of partnerships, and principles of service and giving as a means to grow a business. Sign up for Sabrina’s free report, Networking For Success at http://www.behindthemooninc.com/index.php/free-report.

Adding Value: Does It Mean Giving Away My Stuff For FREE?

by Sabrina Risley

You may have a large network.  You may know a lot of people.  They may know a lot of people.  It seems that this alone would be the perfect formula for creating a networking goldmine, but as you may have noticed, a network alone won’t necessarily bring you endless referrals and a steady stream of new clients.  But there is one thing that will…

Adding VALUE and helping those within your network!

A concentration on adding value and service as an important facet of your business growth strategy will have a tremendous effect on what you attract.

So what does adding value and helping others really mean?  It’s like paying it forward.  It’s doing good for the sake of doing good, not for the sake of what you think you might receive in return.  It’s about serving without attachment to an outcome or expectation.  One of my favorite quotes from Bob Burg‘s Go-Givers Sell More reads “The task here is not to create value in order to create a sale or “in order to” anything.  It’s to create value, period.”

Adding value could look like any number of things:

  • Making a phone call instead of sending an email
  • Sending a handwritten note or thank you card
  • Remembering birthdays, anniversaries or other important dates
  • Making an introduction or connecting someone to another person of high-value to them
  • Recommending valuable resources and sharing information
  • Offering a free report, success tips, or valuable information that solves your target market’s problems
  • Following up with a client, contact or prospect to be sure they are satisfied
  • Thinking ahead to what your client might need, suggesting other products and services
  • Sending referrals
  • Saving a client money… and the list can go on and on.

Here are a few specific examples that might help you translate things for your own business:

  • A massage therapist or hair stylist might call their client a few days after delivering service to see how they are doing.
  • An insurance agent might call their client to let them know about new changes in their policy, how that will impact them, and offer suggestions.
  • Thinking outside the box… a professional on the networking circuit might focus on connecting at least two people from every event with someone who could be a good strategic alliance or power partner.
“The essence of the Go-Giver philosophy is this: the more you give, the more you have.”

With this quote in mind, you’ll notice what did not make my list of what adding value looks like…

  • Giving away your services and products for free
  • Discounting your services and products
  • Over-giving to a paying customer because they demand it

These are not examples of adding value.  In fact, much of the time, free or discounting decreases its perceived value. Think of what you treasure more… something for which you paid full price or the item you found on sale?  Well, happening upon a great sale can be exhilarating, however consider an article of clothing costing $100. When the item goes on sale for $50, doesn’t it make you wonder whether the item was ever worth the original $100?

To really be of service and to add value to your network and clients, your giving must contribute in some manner.  Here are a few questions to consider when determining how to add greater value in your business.

  • Is this something that will directly impact the other person?
  • Would this help them solve a problem or overcome an obstacle?
  • Could this support them in learning something new?
  • Am I giving this without being attached to getting something back in return? (giving from the heart versus giving to buy approval)
  • Can I freely give this, without it taking away from my energy, causing resentment, or it being a disservice to myself or other clients?

These are all for your consideration when looking for ways to add value.  Remember, it’s about being of service and giving, but it’s not about giving away your services and products for free, offering discounts, depleting your energy, and devaluing your time and worth.

Focus on adding value for others and you’ll soon see your business grow in value.

“Right now, your total job is to focus on one thing and one thing only; providing value to other people. If you do that well, sales – and money – will find you.” ~Go-Givers Sell More

(c) 2012 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information for Sabrina Risley below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Sabrina Risley founded Behind The Moon, Inc.® in 2003, a Colorado-based networking organization that sets itself apart with its motto “grow your business by helping others grow theirs.” Behind The Moon offers several networking events across Colorado’s Front Range that attract professionals who network to give rather than get. You will find Sabrina speaking to audiences about effective networking techniques, the power of partnerships, and principles of service and giving as a means to grow a business. Sign up for Sabrina’s free report, Networking For Success at http://www.behindthemooninc.com/index.php/free-report.

Racing For The 2011 Finish Line

by Sabrina Risley

Santa Claus, snowflakes, reindeer and sugar plus… holiday parties, gift exchanges, hustle and bustle shopping.  With so many distractions, it’s no wonder professionals find it hard to focus on December production and sales quotas.  It would seem the perfect time to throw in the towel, call it a decent year and hope to exceed expectations next year, right?  WRONG!!

The fact remains that December is a month where a great deal of momentum can be lost or gained, making it the perfect time to continue working, even pushing, to close out an amazing year and better ensure a strong start in the New Year.  But what type of “work” are professional doing in December?  I conducted an unofficial poll on Facebook and received some great ideas shared with you below.  I’ve also sprinkled in a few of my own, the combination of which I hope includes some ideas you hadn’t thought of to keep you ahead of the curve when January 1, 2012 dawns.

Continue Income-Producing Activities.  Don’t shy away from making phone calls to prospects and clients, setting up appointments, and reaching out to power partner.  If you think people are “too busy” and you wait until January to reach out, you will already be behind the 8 ball.  Call now to set appointments for the first week in January if your contacts are not available to meet or have conversations this month.

Continue Networking! Do not let up on your networking regimen. Many believe December to be a slow networking month but this is not the case.  In December, go to as many holiday gatherings as possible on top of your regular networking venues.  Be social, make friends, add value and keep networking!

Solidify Relationships! A personal phone call goes a long way!  Review your list of clients and referral partners list and make a point of contacting them by phone to thank them for trusting you and doing business with you.  Consider inviting your customers to an appreciation event (lunch, dinner, cocktail hour) in the first quarter of the New Year. Maybe it’s time to send a New Years card to be receive it mid-January when clients least expect it.  Send a simple gift or quote that you know will resonate with your contacts. At all turns, focus on expressing your gratitude and refrain from hard selling your products or services.

Ask For Introductions! Ask those who know you and your business well for introductions to potential power partners. Then take the time to approach prospective power partners to see if they are open to a referral or cross-promotional partnership between both companies in 2012.

Get Technical & Systematic! Purchase and get the technology or software in place that you haven’t had time to address. Do you need to upgrade your computer, copier, scanner, fax?  Have you put off synchronizing your mobile devices with your desktop solution?  Maybe it’s time to finally sign up for systems to manage your customer relationships (www.Zoho.com), emails (www.Zoho.com), newsletters (Constant Contact), card-sending (Send Out Cards), social media (HootSuite). Review current processes and systems. If your accounting is manual, perhaps it’s time to outsource the task or automate and organize with Quickbooks.  What is your process when a new customer comes on board?  Is it consistent and streamlined for maximum efficiency?  How can it be improved, simplified or automated?  Take the time to thoroughly document processes to minimize the learning curve for new staff and as a reference tool for existing staff.

Revisit Your Business Plan!  Sometimes we over-estimate our capabilities and fall short of our business plan and goals from the previous year. Now is a GREAT time to revamp plans and goals so they are realistic and attainable.

Your competition is relaxing and “waiting” to hit the ground running in January.  Do not be fooled into thinking “no one” is doing business this month.  While others are slacking, continue to work smart and with diligence to keep your strong momentum and better ensure a strong start in the New Year!

(c) 2011 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information for Sabrina Risley below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Sabrina Risley founded Behind The Moon, Inc.® in 2003, a Colorado-based networking organization that sets itself apart with its motto “grow your business by helping others grow theirs.” Behind The Moon offers several networking events across Colorado’s Front Range that attract professionals who network to give rather than get. You will find Sabrina speaking to audiences about effective networking techniques, the power of partnerships, and principles of service and giving as a means to grow a business. Sign up for Sabrina’s free report, Networking For Success at http://www.behindthemooninc.com/index.php/free-report.

Behind The Moon Launches Exclusive VIP Neworking Membership

by Sabrina Risley

Behind The Moon (BTM) just celebrated its 8th year in business last month!  This makes BTM one of the longest standing  private networking organizations in the Denver metro area!  We have welcomed more than 4,200 professionals to our networking events over the years, we have grown to hosting 13 networking events in and around the Denver metro area each month and we have more than 200 professional BTM members.

Our Participants Make The Difference:

We recognize that it is professionals like you, BTM members and non-members alike, who create the foundation for our success.  We have come  to be known as the networking destination where professionals actually see results from their networking efforts.  We attract highly professional, service-oriented individuals with a Go-Giver™ mentality, resulting in networking events filled with professionals who understand the power of connecting, networking, adding value, and forming strategic partnerships.

Here is some information you might not know about Behind The Moon:

BTM website has more than 6,500 visitors average per month which means a lot of eyeballs viewing our Member Directory.

√ BTM members receive a FREE, Customizable Profile Page in BTM’s Online Member Directory, visible to the public.  Search engines LOVE the Behind The Moon website!

Sabrina Risley and professional event hosts have more than 100,000 Social Media connections. This means our events and Member Directory get massive exposure.

√ BTM members build strong relationships, add value and help one another regularly.  We are always connecting people and we love it.

√ In Colorado, whether you are south in Parker or Castle Rock, north in Westminster or Arvada, or somewhere in between, we’ve got 13 monthly events, with one likely near you, allowing you to network right where you want to do business.

√ Our networking events are open to all and membership is never required.  However, when newcomers attend a BTM networking event, they want to join and take advantage of our exclusive Member Perks and become a part of the Behind The Moon professional network.

As BTM embarks on its 9th year in business, we are excited to announce that Behind The Moon is bringing a whole new level of networking to town!!  What if business owners could build relationships like CEOs of major corporations?  Top-notch professionals are continuously striking business deals while playing golf and attending dinner parties.  However, business owners and entrepreneurs don’t always have access to high-level relationship building and networking.

Behind The Moon is changing all that by introducing aits new and exclusive VIP Level Membership!

VIP membership means:

√ Interacting with those who are committed to investing in business growth

√ Developing strong business relationships that result in ongoing referrals

√ Rubbing elbows with top-notch professionals who take networking seriously

VIP Membership includes what is currently offered to existing Standard & Premium Members, plus:

√ Unlimited free admission to BTM networking events

√ Invitations to VIP Member Only events including mixers, golfing, dinner parties and more

√ Exclusive opportunity to sponsor or host BTM Member Mixers

√ Featured business listing at the top of your category in BTM’s Online Member Directory

√ A one-on-one coffee with Sabrina Risley, one of the most well-connected women in Denver and personal promotion by Sabrina Risley to her network of more than 10,000 connections via social media channels

Learn More more about Behind The Moon’s VIP, Premium and Standard level Memberships open to all professionals, without limitations by industry.

Regardless of whether a Behind The Moon membership is right for you, we invite you network with us anytime!  We love to meet new people and introduce them to our professional network.

Thank you for being a part of our community as we recognize that we are only as good as the professionals we attract.  We value your continued contribution and your commitment to supporting local businesses in our community.  The results we have witnessed throughout the past eight years have been astonishing.  We look forward to the future of Behind the Moon and to helping business owners “grow their business by helping others grow theirs!”

To become a BTM Member, click here  for instructions to create a new user account and submit an online application for Membership, or contact us.

(c) 2011 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information for Sabrina Risley below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

If You Want To Be A BIG Business, Start Acting Like One

By Sabrina Risley

As a business owner, you are intimately aware of the hard work that goes into growing, building and expanding a business… month after month, year after year.  What do you see when you look back on the previous year and compare it to where you are now.  If you’d like to see expansive growth over the coming year, it might be time to switch things up.  After all, you cannot continue doing what you are currently doing and expect to see different results, one year from now. 

If you want to be a BIG business, you have to start acting like one.  Below are a few strategies you might consider to step up your game.  After reading, I’d love your feedback and any ideas you have.

Public Relations – Raise community awareness of your business by a number of means including distributing press releases, getting involved in professional networking organizations (not just attending), increasing your community involvement, volunteering for charities and non-profits, sponsoring community and other programs, and joining service organizations  such as Rotary,  Kiwanis, Optimist, and Soroptimist.  A great resource for finding volunteer opportunities in your area is www.Serve.gov.  Having read all this, if you are overwhelmed with formulating a strategic PR plan, consider hiring a PR firm for professional guidance and assistance.

Outsource or Hire Staff – Business owners often wear hats belonging to bookkeeping, sales, marketing, advertising, social media, administrative assistants, customer service, plus more.  Outsource what you can or hire experts to handle what you don’t enjoy, can’t manage effectively or is preventing you from focusing on strategy and nurturing important relationships.

License Your or Their Products/Services – If you’ve got a great brand, consider licensing your product to partners, an extended sales force, adding revenue to your bottom line.  You can receive upfront payment and then royalties for each sale.  Or, if adding products/services to your repertoire makes sense, find a company offering complementary products and look into a licensing partnership with them.  Either option can bring great value and revenue to your business.  However, it may be best to hire a consulting firm and/or intellectual property attorney to protect your interests.  I thought these articles were helpful:  How to License Someone Else’s Product and How to Successfully License a New Product or Invention.

Document, Implement & Automate Processes –Free yourself up by investing in CRM software, auto-responders, card sending programs, customer service processes, sales from your website, and… what else?  What are you doing that a system or a person can be doing for you once the process has been defined and documented?   Documentation is crucial to minimize time spent training new or retraining existing employees.   Automate with caution… do not automate what you feel requires a personal touch or interaction.

These are just a few ideas that, with consistent effort, can take your business to the next level.  Keep in mind that results may not show up immediately as it can take time to achieve measurable results.  But once you start seeing that upward curve in your revenue, you’ll see that it was worth the wait.  What ideas can you share with us that have worked for you or what are you switching up to take your business to the next level?

(c) 2011 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Collabora-Preneurship May Be Your Next Step

By Sabrina Risley

While many professionals I meet are solo-preneurs, they are not necessarily flying solo.  Ditto with regard to employees building a portfolio or book of business for a small, mid or large sized organization.  In fact, many professionals are recognizing the power of collaborating with others to leverage resources they may not have at their fingertips.  They are becoming what I like to refer to as “collabora-preneurs.” 

A collabora-preneur is someone who collaborates with others in business to meet a common goal.  You see, you can’t do everything on your own and still give 100% of your attention where it is needed most.  Whether working for yourself or someone else, collaboration is one of the golden tickets to your success.  If something stops you from meeting your goal(s) or from expanding, find someone who or a company that can fill the space.  Do not make the mistake of thinking you and your company have to deliver what the market demands when you can leverage expertise that already exists. 

Some of the benefits to collaborating include:

(1)  Making use of someone else’s expertise

(2)  Leveraging manpower and resources

(3)  Cross-promoting and co-marketing

(4)  Brainstorming ideas and masterminding

(5)  Expanding without losing focus of core competency

(6)  Offering more to existing customers.

Allow me to offer up my company as an example of collabora-preneurship.  Since 2004, Behind The Moon (BTM) has offered networking events to Colorado professionals.  After five years, I thought it was time to expand our services and in 2009, BTM ventured into offering referral groups to the professional community, known better as leads groups.  It was not my forte but, with the proper due diligence, would be a nice complement and stepping stone to further our success.  Instead of additional success, what I found was that developing and operating leads groups was a distraction and took me away from the forward progress of BTM’s core competency, networking events and educating professionals on effective networking techniques.  I found myself overworked and under great self-inflicted pressure, attempting to over-deliver on a service with which I had very little experience and expertise.

After 18 months of reinventing the wheel (which I highly discourage), I realized I lacked the available time to dedicate to fully developing and delivering an outstanding leads group service.  However, rather than discard my efforts, I decided this would be an ideal opportunity to collaborate with another company.  It is June 2011 and I am thrilled to announce that BTM has joined forces with Mark Hiatt of Business Leads of America (BLA).  As long as BTM has been offering networking events to professionals, BLA been offering leads groups, and has done so very successfully.  BLA operates 12 leads groups throughout Colorado and 5 in Arizona.

BTM and BLA form a strong partnership as, among other reasons, both our organizations can now leverage services of the other without distraction from our core competency.   As a result, BTM and BLA members gain greater value, a stronger community, plus tools and resources now available to impact their personal and professional growth.  This is an alliance that benefits both communities.

If you are itching to venture into a new market or offer a new product or service, collaborating or collabora-preneurship may be the next step to consider.

See Tips For A Successful Joint Venture for information about what to look for in a partner.

(c) 2011 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

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Take Action!

Lately I have seen a lot of people who are overwhelmed, confused, and unhappy.  What I have noticed about some of these folks is that they don’t take action or they spend all their time doing the wrong things.

I know there have been many days when I have been sitting at my desk all day, perhaps longer than just the normal 9 to 5, and then asked myself, “What did I really get done?”  On these days, I definitely did not feel productive and instead, I just felt overwhelmed, even though I had put in more than a full day of work.
 
Then there are some days when I felt great and I knew what I was accomplishing was bringing me closer to my goals.  Those were days in which I was in action modeworking on the right things.  And it felt great!
 
So what sets apart inaction versus action and right and wrong activities?  Well the action is when you are working on your “high payoff activities.”  These are activities that bring you closer to your goal.  They do not include the normal “to-do list” items such as answering emails, filing and shuffling papers, and balancing your checkbook.  However, they do include anything that literally brings you one-step closer to your goal(s).  To figure out your “high payoff activities,” you need some clearly defined goals that you can break down into little fragments or mini-goals.  These mini-goals then become your daily high payoff activities to focus on.
 
We all have “to-do” lists that really do not bring us closer to anything but maybe a cleaner house or less junk mail on the counter.  Be kind to yourself.  Sometimes these things can wait longer.  Learn to ignore the little distractions in your life.  If I paid attention to all of them, I’d spend the majority of my day cleaning and re-cleaning my closet. While I’d have a clean house, that’s all I would have.
 
How do you get into action?
If you are having trouble getting into action, you need to assess a few different things.
 
1. Am I not taking action because this is not something I want to be, do, or have?  Or is my desire to take action not greater than my desire to not take action?  If this is the case, you may need to reassess where you are going and get aligned to your purpose and passion.  Maybe you are working toward goals that do not fit you or your purpose anymore.  In this case, it is okay to release them and start working on something that does bring you passion and purpose.
 
2. Is there a belief that if I try to do what I want, that I might fail?  If you have fear of failure or fear of success, know that this is normal and that many people go through these same emotions.  BUT the only way to get over it is to start doing something that counteracts that belief.  You will raise your self-confidence and self-esteem with each action step you take, so it is VITAL to keep taking action.  It builds momentum.
 
3. You do not know the “HOW” of reaching your goals. Many people have big dreams, but they are paralyzed because they cannot see the how.  “How” is a dirty little word when it comes to achieving goals.  Stop asking yourself (or others) this question, because the fact is, until you commit to your goals, dreams, or purpose, the how will never show up.  You have to first commit to them and then you have to be open to seeing the signs and receiving divine inspiration.  I promise, make the commitment and the “How” will magically show up. 😉
 
If you are having trouble getting into action, get support whether it is from a friend, a mentor, a coach, or a group of like-minded people.  Start taking action today. There is no time like NOW.
 
“To be successful, you have to do what successful people do, and successful people are highly action-oriented.”
~Jack Canfield
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(c) 2009, 2010, 2011 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 

Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Thank you Andrea Costantine for this contribution.  Andrea is a writer, speaker, and wanna-be artist, focusing on the good things in life.  She is a perpetual optimist, lover of nature, yoga, travel, and new experiences.  Learn more about Andrea at www.andreacostantine.com

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