You know the concept of six degrees of separation? The idea is that someone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone. The reasoning is that everyone is no more than six steps away from know another person.
I don't know about you, but I would bet dollars to donuts that, in your community, it is about two degrees. It seems everyone knows everyone. Once you meet someone, you can bet someone else you know already knows them.
With this knowledge, I am always amazed when I'm in a seminar and I ask for challenges, someone always says: "My challenge is I can't get by the gatekeeper." Before I even get to address this silly issue, it seems someone else always has some brilliant answer, like: "Tell them you want to talk to John. If they ask what it is in reference to, tell them you are a personal friend." Are you kidding me?
Deceit doesn't seem to me to be the way to go. I don't think tricking someone to get on the phone with you is a long-term plan for prospecting.
What is? Using your networking sources. Networking is a very successful way to do your business. I am not saying you shouldn't cold call. There are certain industries, and certainly at the beginning of most careers it is necessary to build a database of potential customers. I am saying you should work yourself out of the cold call business over time.
How do you do that? Through processes of networking and forming strategic alliances. Networking is something most business people do, but few do well. We will talk more on networking in future months.
What is a strategic alliance? Someone you can share referrals with who is out and about in the community and can introduce you to the people you are trying to meet. This is who I recommend looking to meet at a networking function (as opposed to just a prospect).
Introduce yourself by being remembered. You are in competition with everyone in that room. What I mean is that we can only remember 10-15% of what we hear. Don't you want to be remembered? If you are a travel agent, you may want to introduce yourself by saying, “I am the only person who can tell you where to go." Or, an office products sales person might say, "I get into your drawers." Though it seems silly, just remember: bringing the human factor will help people remember you and break the ice at the same time.
Follow-up is very important in networking and forming strategic alliances. You are trying to be remembered and to form relationships. One of the ways to do this is to follow up with a hand-written note after an initial meeting. Another option is to use an online tool called Followup-cards.com. You can set up a file to easily send a card to everyone you meet at the event.
This is not a sales opportunity, so don't sell here. You should follow up with all the people you met with a little note, not just the strategic alliances you set up.
So getting referrals can be done very effectively if you use a process to do it right. Or, you can always cold call.
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