How to leverage your network

This week we talked to Jennifer Beale about leveraging your network, giving first, and how often you should connect with your referral partners!

Kendra: As a professional networker, you must have your elevator pitch down! Can we hear it?

Jennifer: I connect business people to lots of prospects in a short amount of time. My favourite strategy is live events – other people’s events and mine, which are two of Toronto’s largest business networking events. I also make connections for people in my network on an ongoing basis.

Kendra: That’s pretty succinct! I personally believe that telling your story effectively is one of the best things you can do for your business. You help your clients do this every day; what’s your best advice for getting started?

Jennifer: Personal stories draw people to you.

Your life is a series of vignettes, which collectively become part of a much bigger story. Pay attention to everyday vignettes, especially how you feel in various situations. Know that if you feel a certain way, others probably do too.

When you find yourself in a situation that feels uncomfortable, pay attention to what is happening on the outside – and on the inside! Discover something new from the experience. Then when you’re writing a blog post, use the story to illustrate the main message.

Kendra: Everyone has a network of evangelists: people who feel the same way you do and want to support you. Even if you’re just a startup, you have cheerleaders in your corner. How can you leverage them as part of your marketing strategy?

Jennifer: The best strategy is to turn your cheerleaders into referral partners. But getting people to refer business requires more than asking them to. Typically people give referrals once you establish a relationship. So don’t expect too much when you first meet. Get to know people by building a relationship first.

Be the first to give. What should you give? What they want. The only way to know is to ask them: “how can I help you?” Listen to what they say and then deliver what they want – not what you want to give them. This often triggers them to ask what you want.

When someone refers business to you, don’t just thank them when it turns into business. Thank them every step of the way: from the introduction to meeting with them to closing the deal. And if the deal does not close, let them know. Most people just want to be acknowledged for helping you. Appreciation goes a long way to staying top of mind.

Kendra: That’s great advice! I think that we get nervous to ask for help, but by giving first, it makes it easier to ask for that to be returned.

Because I’m a marketer, I tend to treat any project (even networking) as a campaign. I want to be able to track my effort and the results. Can you measure or track the success of this kind of influencer campaign? Would you want to?

Jennifer: You need to treat your referral partners better than your clients. And whenever you invest marketing dollars you need to track results. The only way to ensure you do the right things in the right order with the right frequency is to have a referral system.

Remember – you need to give to keep the relationship going. Touch base at least 25 times per year, and at least four times in person. Keep referral partners top of mind and they will keep you top of mind.

Kendra: When you have a repeatable system, it would become easier to measure the outcomes – even when the “campaign” is deeply rooted in giving.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat today Jennifer – you’ll be hearing from me 24 more times this year!