Referrals are the lifeblood of and usually the most effective way to market any business especially a Lifestyle Business.  Cultivating your referral network requires time energy and effort. Relationship development meetings with centres of influence can provide excellent return on investment when done effectively.  Following are some guidelines for conducting relationship development meetings:

Purpose:

The prime purpose of the relationship development meeting is to develop trust.  Trust is manifest when we are meeting 4 criteria:

  1. Propriety – Are you proper?
  2. Competence – Can you do the job?
  3. Commonality – What do we have in common?
  4. Intent – How do you do business? What are the rules?

This list is in order of importance 4 being the most important.

Process:

  • Set a time and place that is suitable to both people – a cafe can be good.
  • Be on time – Being late says loudly that you are not reliable.  If you get caught up in traffic, SMS or phone to let them know you are running late.  – this helps to establish propriety
  • Divide the 1 hour into two sessions. – ideally 30 minutes each but not necessarily
  • Establish trust by confirming the purpose of the meeting, how you expect the meeting will run and what benefit they and you will gain from your time together. –  this process helps to establish intent the most important element of trust.

Invite your guest to go first by asking them to tell you about their business.  The law of psychological reciprocity tells us that if we ask someone to talk about themselves eventually they will feel the need to ask about you.  

In the first part:

  • Tell them a little of what you already know about them and confirm your understanding
  • Seek commonality through shared attitudes values and beliefs?
  • What does their business do?
  • Who is their target market?
  • What is a good referral or connection for them?
  • Ask them for a simple way for you to tell other people about what they do.
  • Important note – ask permission to take notes. – this reinforces positive intent

In the second part:

  • Get them to tell you what they know about you
  • Clarify any misconceptions.
  • Seek commonality through shared attitudes values and beliefs?
  • Define your business and purpose succinctly so that it is easier for them to explain to others
  • What does their business do?
  • Who is their target market?

 

Tell stories about how you have helped other people like them or their clients –competence

Thank them for their time and establish rules for follow up – intent

Other notes:

Have a book to record your notes in that is specifically set aside for Coffee Meetings.  You can then refer back to it when you are able to give them a referral. It also keeps you on track during the meeting.

When it is your turn to talk about your business, keep to the facts about what you do.  Do not waffle.

Write down in the front of your Coffee Morning Book points that you want to cover about your business.

Invite them to come along to a networking event that you are attending and offer to be their ‘Wingman’.  This will quickly build a greater level of trust.

Make a second appointment with them in one month’s time at this meeting.  Diarise together. Let them choose the next venue.

At the second meeting let them know you are specifically going to see how you can bring them a referral or an introduction and ask them to do the same.  You will be amazed at how effective this is for a referral for you.

Please make sure that you pay any bill..  They are your guest….

If you have any questions, or comments or you would like some help in creating and preserving your own Lifestyle Business feel free to phone +61 (0)417 883 688 or email me at leonard@actioncyclelearning.com.au to arrange an obligation free initial appointment.

Note: The Hills & Districts Chamber of Commerce Inc advises that the views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in this post belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the Chamber, or a committee or other group or individual associated with the Chamber.

Leonard Whittaker

Leonard Whittaker is the Principal of Action Cycle Learning, member of the Chamber Executive, and Chamber Secretary.