I also call this the “Who do you know strategy.” When developing a business strategy, we go to our weak link network. Write a custom email to each person in your network and If they know someone who could be a prospect, invite the weak link to have a personal phone call or meeting. You can then discuss their connection and the best way to make an approach. There are two ways to make the introduction and referral: 1) In-person or 2) by email.
Weak links are people in your network you don't connect with frequently.
These are your best referral partners.
Example Goal of a Target Customer:
Industry: Construction – Small homes
Customer Company: General contractors
Service/Product: Low voltage wiring for computer data lines
The initial email message to Weak Link Network:
I’m wanting to meet general contractors who build homes. We provide the wiring for computer networks. We want to get into the new construction and install the wiring before the drywall is installed.
Process used & Expected results:
- Send 10 emails per day to people in the weak link network.
- Over 10 days, a total of 100 emails.
- Each person knows 250 people which offers about 2,500 potential connections.
- From these 100 emails, look forward to 3 – 20 people willing to make personal introductions.
- Expect a 40% closing rate (Since you were recommended by a trusted advisor)
- Average results per 100 emails = 12 Leads.
- Average number of deals closed per 100 emails = 4.8
Keys to Success:
- Frequency of contact – Define how often contact should be made with weak links.
- Networking Skills – This strategy works with all types of contacts, but works best if the connections are expert and master networkers. For others who are not expert or master networkers, you’ll need to be very clear with expectations and the potential win-win opportunities.
- Target Communication – The more narrowly defined you can describe your goal, the more successful you will be at obtaining referrals. Be assured, those in your network who care about your success will help you... if you know what you are looking for.
An advanced piece of this strategy
Recognize the frequency of referrals from a particular contact.
Assume that 80% of your referrals will come from 20% of your casual relationships (weak links). Knowing this, increase the frequency of contact with these 20%. i.e. Six times a year instead of twice per year.
If there are "friends" who don't refer anyone, you might decide to connect with them once per year. For those contacts who never respond, you may attempt to connect bi-annually or even drop from your contact list.
With strategic business development top of mind, we have reviewed how to create opportunities within your network by focusing on your weak links for referrals. Before you begin to drop contacts from your network, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind:
- There are many people in your network provide value beyond referrals.
- Within your network you will find "beginners" who will rise to be expert and master networkers.
- Personal and professional life changes which can impact who people know not able to provide referral opportunities.
If you believe networking is important to success within your strategic business plan and interested in developing an activity calendar, we have a checklist many have used with great success: