Start referring your contacts to other professionals and watch your business grow.

When I was just starting my consulting business in 2004, I knew that I wanted networking and referral marketing to be a major part of my marketing strategy. One of the biggest questions I had in mind at the time was, “How do I find the right people and how do I generate referrals for them?”

I have joined a network of local businesses after I was referred to a meeting by another business person in the area. I also have acquired other contacts in the Business and Information Technology arena over the years. I’d like to share with you just one of the techniques I heard someone else use that had a huge impact on their ability to provide quality referrals to others.

Do you want to be the person others come to if they need a referral for anything–the “Go-To Person.”? A person like this is known as a “gate keeper” of referrals. To become known as a gate keeper, one of the things you can do is to compose a letter that is sent out to your client list several times a year. You could send out a quick e-mail to your database, but send it at least once a year as hard copy just to stand out from everybody else who’s e-mailing your clients.

 

    

A sample letter is presented below:

Dear __________:

I really believe in the process of referrals, so part of the service I provide is to refer my clients and associates to other qualified business people like yourself. I have spent many hours getting to know the following business people and know that their products and services would be a benefit to others.

Attached is a list of the areas in which I know very credible, ethical and outstanding professionals. If you’re looking for a professional in a specific area that I’ve listed, please feel free to contact me. If there is an area that I have not listed, please feel free to inquire as to whether I may have added someone to this list. I will be happy to put you in contact with the people I know who provide these services.

Sincerely,
Steven J. Beaman

Professionals I recommend:
Realtor – Residential               Hair Salon                               Banker                              Security Systems
Mortgage Broker                       Plumber                                   Printer                              Nursery
Insurance                                    Sign Maker                              Graphic Designer           Florist
Financial Planner                      Electrician                               Web Designer                  Gift Baskets
CPA                                              Mechanical Contractor          Computer Sales              Paint/Wallcovering
Cosmetics                                   Auto Body & Glass                  Computer Repairs           Advertising
Chiropractic                               Builder                                      Computer Networks
Massage Therapist                    Bathroom remodeling           Copiers/Fax
Dentist                                         Hotel/Motel                             Promotional Products
Portraits/Photographer            Video to DVD                          Health/Nutrition Products

Notice when reading this letter, that I just listed professions; I didn’t list names and phone numbers. I want my clients to contact me so I could put the referral and the contact together. I want to build relationships, not just become another “Yellow Pages”. I want to become known as an effective networker, and that is done by making the connections myself.

I am trying to increase my visibility and establish my credibility throughout the community. One way of establishing credibility is to help other people attain what they want before you start asking them to buy your product or services, or expect them to make connections for you that will further your goals.

Send this letter out to all your clients (and prospects) four times in the first year. You may not get one response until the third time. After the third time, the floodgates will open and you will probably get responses every time you send it out. Eventually, you will no longer have to send it out multiple times each year because you have cultivated the reputation for being a gate keeper. People come to you because of the reputation that you have developed for knowing many businesspeople in the community.

What begins to happen is that others will ask someone on your client list, “Who do you know who does XYZ?” If they don’t know anyone, then they will send that person to you!

The importance of becoming a gate keeper is huge for any business person seeking to grow his or her business with word-of-mouth marketing. It’s a strategy that gets people to not only contact you for a referral, but also to open up a dialogue with people about what your business is all about and how you can help them. This, in turn, leads to more business with existing clients and new business with prospects.

In addition, the people on the list of professions work hard to reciprocate and send people your way as well. They are another part of the equation in the process. In time, even they will begin to come to you when they need a referral for something. (Be sure to copy your letter to each professional represented on that list, letting them know that you’re going to be sending business their way.)

As you develop your mailing list, you will need to drop certain people off it with whom you don’t have any further contact. A person who has been dropped from your list may call, stating that they missed the letters! They may need a referral for a certain business and have to look up an old letter of yours they have kept on file. You can actually end up doing some business with them as a result of this.

This is just one technique to consider when building your business through referrals. It’s a “touch point” that puts you in contact with your clients and prospects in a way that fosters different dynamics than when you’re trying to sell to them. You have something they need in the form of referrals and contacts. Allow this to open the door for reciprocal sharing and giving. You’ll be amazed at how much more business you’ll find you’re able to do with each other as a result