To increase your effectiveness when meeting with your targeted referral sources, offer something of value to them upfront. What do we mean by value? It depends on the person you’re cultivating and the relationship you’re trying to cultivate. Value can take the form of fun, new networking opportunities and even educational tools.
For example, you might want to host a referral source for dinner at an interesting new restaurant. That adds fun. So do invitations to sporting events, charity dinners, art openings and wine tastings. Be on the lookout for events that will be more entertaining than the normal lunch or dinner at the same old place. When you offer enhanced entertainment you communicate a sense of enjoyment and the opportunity to build camaraderie at a faster pace.
For other referral sources, added value can take the form of an introduction to someone they’d like to meet. Someone they’d consider a great potential referral source, such as your partner, a fellow board member or someone well-positioned to send the kinds of clients they serve. Introductions can be extremely valuable — and a nice alternative when you’d like to send referrals, but can’t for whatever reason. Adding value in the form of introductions communicates to the referral source that you’re conscious of their needs as a business person and not just interested in what you can gain from the relationship.
If you need to communicate your depth of knowledge, your credibility, or your standing as an expert in your practice area, give the referral source added value in the form of a book, articles you’ve written or other resources specific to their needs. You can also offer to conduct a complimentary in-house seminar for the referral source’s team in some situations. Just be sure to fit the educational tools you offer with the real needs of the referral source.
All of these efforts allow you to showcase your personality, your connections and your expertise in ways that directly benefit the referral source. They allow people to get to know you with very low up-front risk, which accelerates the trust building process and the likelihood they’ll send referrals. Remember, people like to do business with people they like. Offering up-front value is a winning strategy to enhance your marketing effectiveness.