No More Cold Calls

business networking“Why are you making cold calls when you can get referrals?” That’s a question I frequently ask my clients. Most would agree that it is much better to do business with people who trust you. One of the best things about referrals is that they bring in customers who have already begun to trust you on some level.

 So if referrals are such a good way of finding new business, why don’t we have a well thought-out, systematic way of generating them?

A Referral Marketing System

In surveys, typically less than half of all business owners and sales professionals have a systematic referral marketing system. There’s really no reason to make cold calls if you have a steady stream of “warm” referrals coming your way. So how do you do it?

 It begins with networking. In his book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, Dr. Ivan Misner describes several types of networking groups that are commonly used to generate business. I have adapted his list below.
  • Casual-contact networks: general business groups such as chambers of commerce that allow many people from various overlapping professions;
  • Strong-contact networks: groups that allow only one member per profession and that meet weekly specifically to exchange leads;
  • Community-service clubs: groups like Rotary or Exchange or Kiwanis, which exist primarily to serve the community but which also are a good source of referrals;
  • Professional associations: groups of people in a single industry or profession, whose primary purpose is to exchange information and ideas;
  • Social groups: groups of people that gather for fellowship or social reasons (e.g. church, country club, etc.) or dual-purpose organizations such as Jaycees that combine business and pleasure;
  • Women’s business organizations: networking groups designed specifically to advance women in business;
  • Online groups/networks: groups or networks like you find on Yahoo, LinkedIn, Facebook, MeetUp, etc.

Build Your Network

Do not limit yourself to one network or group. The best strategy is to select a well-rounded mix of organizations but do not join any two of the same type, with the exception possibly being online groups. Begin now to build a large and strong network from which to identify referral sources. This is the first step in building a dynamic referral system. What networks are you a part of? Where have you seen the most success networking?

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