Keeping in step with the spirit of networking, let’s bust a few networking myths and break free and move towards the truths behind networking.
Truth or Delusion? If you provide good customer service, people will refer business to you.
This one’s a delusion. Many entrepreneurs think that good customer service is the number-one way to cultivate word-of-mouth marketing and referrals. I’d say good customer service is essential to your survival in today’s competitive markets. But it’s not! It’s a good policy and one that’s vital to the health of your business, but it’s not at the core of building a referral-based business.
People have come to expect good customer service. In fact, they demand it in today’s marketplace. When considering customer service and its role in the referral process, it unfortunately works much more effectively in reverse: People are more likely to talk about your business when they’re unhappy with you than when they’re happy with your service.
So if you want to build your referrals, you must actively cultivate your referral sources and not rely on good customer service alone.
Truth or Delusion? For maximum referral impact, you should cultivate relationships primarily with the movers and shakers in your community.
This one’s also a delusion. The common perception is to look for influential individuals who will hopefully be able to provide large referrals for your business that will result in big sales.
I once heard a very interesting story that really brings this point home. A few years back, I was chatting with a local business owner I knew about the impact that all types of people can have on our referral business. The man owned a window covering business. During our conversation, he proceeded to tell me about a referral he got from a rather unassuming man he knew. It seems that this man’s friend, an elderly woman living nearby, had one small window on a back door that needed a roll-up screen and he could find no other window covering business that would be interested in coming out to her house to measure and quote her on such a small job.
My acquaintance continued this story by recounting how he willingly agreed to take care of the job, much to the man’s relief. About two weeks later, a large, black stretch limo pulled up in front of his store. A very well-dressed man in a custom-tailored suit stepped out and came into his store. It was this little old lady’s son! He had been very impressed with the work done at his mother’s house and wanted to do business with my friend. He had just purchased a 6,000-square-foot house in Malibu and wanted my friend to handle all the window coverings on an unlimited budget (visualize with me all the windows in a really large house right on the ocean).