As every professional knows, it's important to have a reliable network of referral partners who regularly send business your way and to whom you send clients as well. But according to Business Network Int'l. founder and networking expert, Dr. Ivan Misner, it's possible to take these relationships and their resulting benefits to another level. It's all about positioning one's self as the "Gate Keeper of the Lead".
A "Gate Keeper" is someone who not only refers business, but does so by becoming the center of the referral circle, ensuring that all contacts pass through them.
For example, say that you're at a function and overhear someone discussing how they're not happy with their current tax preparer. As a networking-savvy individual, you would tell them that you know a great CPA and ask if they'd like a referral. A good networker would write down the CPA's name and number and hand it over. According to Dr. Misner, the great networker would write down the CPA's name on the back of their personal business card and tell the recipient to call or email them for the number.
In reviewing this scenario, the good networker did a very nice thing by referring someone in need to a professional they trust. The question is, will they reap any rewards for providing the referral? On the other hand, the great networker performed the same deed but in doing so, put themselves in between the CPA and the client. When the client calls for the CPA's number, the referrer has their own chance to build a relationship. Here are a few more techniques to enhance your role as a Gate Keeper:
Send a Letter
Draft a letter to send out periodically to your entire database. In the letter, list ALL of the different types of professionals you work with on a regular basis (Lawyer, CPA, Loan Officer, etc.). Let the recipients know that if they are in need of services from any of these professionals, that you would be happy to provide them with the name of a reliable individual.
Create Seasonal Letters
Review your list of professionals, and think about when their services are needed most. Create letters, specific to each profession, and send them out in a timely manner. For example, a letter inquiring about whether clients are happy with their current CPA or in need of a referral should be sent out around the first of the year. Letters about handymen, landscapers, or contractors could go out after a transaction has closed. The possibilities are endless.
Draft Letters for Your Referral Partners
Keeping the previous tip in mind, create a letter highlighting your services and provide it to your referral partners. Request that they send it out to their database at specific times of the year that will benefit you most.
Hold a Catalyst Event
According to Dr. Misner, a catalyst event is any function held to promote the building of relationships. Reserving a movie theater, holding a golf tournament, or organizing an educational seminar would all fall into this category. While it costs money to hold such events, they can really be worth the investment. As the organizer of the event, you put yourself at thecenter of the referral circle.