Asking for referrals: Narrow your focus, increase your business
Photo by Flickr user ellenm1
Last time we talked about how, when you have the opportunity to express a desire for a referral, a lack of specificity can make it hard for your networking partners to help you. In fact, it might end up being so hard that they decide that the whole thing is just a bad idea and will end up not referring anyone to you after all.
So, how do you make your referral requests more specific?
The first thing you can do is focus on your target market. One of the best ways to narrow that down is to look at your current and former customers.
Ask yourself a few questions. Who were your best customers? Who were the most fun or satisfying to work with? Who was the most profitable? Make a few lists to answer these questions. If you can find one or two who are on all of the lists, that's even better.
I'm assuming that if you have particular clients who are profitable and/or enjoyable to work with, you might like more who are similar. Start looking at some of the attributes of these folks. Ask more questions:
- Are they local, regional, national or global?
- Are they individuals or companies?
- Are they nonprofits, academics, small businesses or Fortune 500 organizations?
- Are they within particular industries?
- Has something happened to them recently (good or bad)?
- Is something going to be happening to them soon (good or bad)?
- What are their short-, medium- and/or long-term goals?
- How long has the company been in business?
- Are they a startup, growth stage, mature or declining company?
- How many employees?
- How much revenue?
- Publicly traded? Privately held? Family business?
- If they are individuals, what is their age range?
- How many members of their family?
- Do they own a house, a condominium, or do they rent an apartment?
- How many cars do they have? What make, model and year?
- Do they live in the city, the suburbs or out in the country?
The more closely you can define what makes your ideal client unique, the better able you will be to describe that client to a networking partner with the purpose of meeting more like that.
Next time, we'll take the answers to these questions and see what a difference a little specificity makes.
Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to www.thereluctantnetworker.com.