This post is taken from a transcript of one of my recent webinars on “how to win your first client…..and then your second and third”. You can listen to the section of the recording and view the slides here

Heather Townsend (HT): A lot of people are being told to go out, network, you’ll win your first client, and that leads us to believe that we’ll go out and meet a prospect ready to buy, job done. But the reality is most people you’ll meet when networking is not a prospect. Or, they’ll be a prospect but are not ready to buy. It’s very rare to meet the prospect ready to buy when networking.

Growing your pipeline of work over time  – That is the reality of networking, it’s a lousy way to directly meet people that are ready to buy. So, how do you generate work from your network and networking?  You’ve got to think of your pipeline as a mixture of people.

People that are potential. You have no idea if they have got a need, but they match effectively people who should need to buy your services.

 People who you’ve managed to qualify, they’re showing some early signs, i.e. there’s some speculative spend that they may have a need for your service.

People where you’ve pre qualified that lead, and you know there is work there to be won, that’s visible spend.

Lastly, people with committed spend, i.e. they want, and decided to use your services.

So, when you’re networking your aim is to spend as much time with people, or people that can get you to that potential category. That’s where the role of introducers come, those are the people who spend time with your potential. They are the people who can shortcut your way to you finding them, and happening to make the right contact at the right time. But what you may have notices is that you’ve got to spend the time keeping in touch with people, so that when they’re ready to buy, you’re there. It takes that time to get into that committed spend, and visible spend.

How does a referral/introduction happen?

Results = Opportunity + Credibility + Visibility + Good Will

  • They’ve got to spot an opportunity, a client need, or a problem must exist. The more you can educate them on what that looks like, the better they get at spotting them. And, go beyond the easy stuff, because anybody can spot an opportunity when someone is saying, ‘Can you introduce me to a good divorce lawyer?’ That’s easy, it’s more maybe where there’s some issues, but they’re not actually saying ‘I need a divorce lawyer’.
  • You’ve got to have the credibility; ‘I have to trust you and feel you can add value, I’m not going to risk my reputation.
  • I need to be reminded that you are around, visibility. What are you doing to stay top of mind? They’ve got to remember that you’re there.
  • Finally, the I like you, and I want to help you’, goodwill.

You’ve got to have all those ingredients before a referral happens.