It’s been a bit of a dry spell this summer, in drumming up new clients. So when the email comes in with the subject line, “Are you taking on new clients,” there’s a good chance it will not be ignored or deleted. BUT…
Nobody is going to give you anything for free. Okay, I take that back, most people will not go out of there way to help you land a new client. They will ask for introductions to new opportunities from YOU, but the reverse is a bit more tricky. The above email was sent to me by someone I had “circled” on G+. It was a canned invitation to some Referral Key site. (Reminds me of how LinkedIn used to pimp their site with “I’d like to add you to my network” messages.
RULE ONE: If you want to add me to your network, tell me why. Don’t use the canned and generic version from the site. If you don’t know me, okay, give it a shot, but be prepared for nothing.
And that’s what I’ve gotten from my previous acceptances from the Referral Key site. I’m not sure if the referer gets some points or something for inviting all their connections, but I’d prefer the REFERRAL.
RULE TWO: If it’s a business pitch you need help on, just ask me. I’m open to doing some free work to help you (then maybe me) get some work together. But don’t ask me to coffee with a “client” just so you can pick my brain. I charge for ideas. It’s all I got.
So the real trick is to figure out how to ask this question for REAL, for your networked friends. To become a connector, someone people think of when they need an additional resource. You want to be that resource for others. And you want to give these “real” referrals without any expectation or ask that they pay off for you.
The goodwill and intention is the thing. And making your network happier. Adding value to the people you value most in your business network, that’s the best way to unlock new business opportunities.
Leave the Referral Key and uber-linkedin-clones to others who are in more disconnected networks. If you’ve got a network, use it by supporting the others, before you need to ask for help yourself. (I’d give you my ReferralKey link, but… Nah.)