Bring People Together: A Feel-Good Business Strategy
There has been a lot of division in society over the past few years (to say the least).
But your business can be a breath of fresh air; your business can be a source of unity.
A simple way to bring people together as a business owner is by radiating appreciation.
Appreciating your clients and competitors builds mutual respect and trust, you know, the core of any united relationship.
This blog will help you on your path.
Is There A Better Way To Get Referrals?
Referrals are wonderful.
A potential client lands in your lap without you spending any extra time or money on prospecting. Plus, they’re more likely to do business with you because they already trust the person who referred you.
Sadly, many business owners feel awkward or desperate when they ask their clients for referrals. You shouldn’t! Often, people love the work you do, but they didn’t get the opportunity to send referrals.
How To Create An Opportunity For Referrals:
- Make referral requests part of your onboarding checklist.
- Ask for 1-2 referrals on the same questionnaire you send clients about their contact information.
- This strategy lets you prioritize your client work because you aren’t distracted by prospecting for the next client.
- Include referrals in your follow-up process.
- Are you checking in with a previous client? That’s a great time to snag an honest testimonial and, while at it, request referrals.
- Jog their memory by asking them to connect you with someone in a similar position as they were BEFORE they hired you.
- Do the matchmaking for them.
- Sometimes your clients forget the size of their network! While working together, if you notice your client has connections to someone you know you could help, just ASK your client to put in a good word about you to that person.
- Better yet, ask for that person’s contact information and reach out to them yourself — mention your mutual connection to lay a good foundation.
How to Encourage Clients to Send Ongoing Referrals:
After receiving those lovely referrals is a perfect time to show clients how much their help means to you.
Maybe reaching out this way will encourage them to send more referrals…
Maybe it will keep you on good terms with each other, and that in itself will lead them to speak highly of you to others…
Or, maybe you just want to show some gratitude because that’s the type of energy you want to put into the world!
Whatever the case, here are a few ideas for how to bake referrals into your business:
- Send a handwritten thank-you note.
- When someone sends me a referral that turns into a client, I always reach out and say thank you. I send a card or gift thanking them for their help.
- Provide a discount on a future service.
- You can try offering 15-30% discounts on a product or service in exchange for referrals.
- Tiered reward programs are great too. (eg: A client who refers two people to you receives a free calendar. A client who refers five people receives the free calendar AND a gift card.)
- Donate in their name.
- Give your client several organizations to choose from and send a donation in the client’s name. What a fun way for both of you to support the change you want to see in the world!
- Thank your customer in a social media post.
- This mixes customer appreciation AND brand marketing. Post about how you appreciate each referral you get; your audience will associate gratefulness with your brand and want to support you, too.
How Should I Collaborate With My Competitors?
Sending appreciation towards business owners in your sector opens the door for you to build a relationship that benefits both of you.
(It’s amazing what happens when you enter a conversation with a competitor in the spirit of openness and collaboration.)
If this seems tough, here are a few ways to get the ball rolling:
- Invite them to share knowledge.
- Don’t be nervous to reach out and ask for advice, like: “how do you deal with this type of client?” or “how do you manage pricing on these types of projects?”
- Better yet, share lessons you learned that they might find insightful. Sending an email when you learn about a change in the industry will inspire unity.
- Brainstorm areas where you both can share resources.
- Have a brainstorming session together, or list your own ideas and send them to your competitor to consider.
- Maybe, together, you could order supplies in bulk and save on shipping fees. Or, you could combine an office party for all your staff to meet and talk shop. There are lots of options!
- Send them a congratulatory message.
- Did a competitor get nominated for an award? Did they finalize a difficult contract? Send over a card and gift to say “congrats!”
- April 7 is National Girl, Me Too Day — it’s about remembering our shared struggles and celebrating each other. You know exactly what your competitors are up against. April 7 is a perfect day to send them some encouraging words.
Cooperating with your competitors also helps you niche down to what you do best. When someone approaches you, and they aren’t an ideal client, you’ll know the best place to send them.
Trust me, there’s nothing more powerful than giving work to your competition! (In terms of putting your money where your mouth is.)
When you collaborate this way, it typically always comes back to you.
What If I Start To Feel Fake?
We all want to be part of a community; owning a business can be your chance to make changes and shape that very community.
But just because networking helps your business doesn’t mean it’s a profit venture!
Besides, there’s no faster way to undermine the mutual respect and trust you built than to turn appreciative gestures into transactions!
How To Prevent Your Network From Becoming a Commodity:
- Treat relationship-building as a long game.
- We don’t always know when the fruits of our conversations will come to fruition. Remind yourself that you’re putting good out there and, eventually, it will come back to you.
- If you enter a conversation expecting a return on investment, it’s time to make sure your actions align with your values. (I have a great book that explains why alignment is critical in business.)
- You can take the first step.
- Don’t hold back from expressing appreciation for others just because your business hasn’t gotten recognition itself.
- Try to replace cynical emotions with gratitude — it’s a win for everybody.
At times, it might seem uncomfortable or like a waste of time to unite with your competitors and clients.
After all, your grocery store probably hasn’t told you that they appreciate your business after you shop there!
But, business relationships have a LOT of nuances.
If you try it out, you might find that gratefulness builds communities and prompts changes we hope to see in the world.
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