Here's an excerpt from a short article I was asked to contribute to - about how I create demand for my services:
"When I am talking to small business owners, I focus on figuring out what their biggest business challenges are. I try to then connect them with people who can help solve whatever challenges they have. As a result of this process, I gain people's trust and respect and they usually ask me how they can help me in return. I simply position myself as someone who can help small businesses generate leads cost effectively [or event planners increase attendance] and that I am willing to speak with anyone who is struggling to grow their business [or events] as fast as they'd like.
As a result of this behavior, I can avoid "selling" or "pitching". Most of my prospects ask me "how they can hire me". Meaning: they are already sold. It's just a matter of fitting the right solution to solve their lead generation problems. In order to do this, I interview them about their business, discover their goals and budget, and then make a budget and goal appropriate recommendation. Then they say "yes" or "no". Most of the ones that get that far, say "yes". I usually rule most of the "no's" out before we get to a recommendation. As a result, I don't waste my time or my prospect's time if there isn't a good fit. And I help a lot of people along the way, creating a lot of good will - that always results in more opportunities for me and my clients."
Rick Roberge introduced me to Michael Kreppein at the Expo. They blogged about each other already. And that's how I found a post about referrals on Mike's blog. Mike is launching a new networking website which sounds interesting. In person I asked him how it was different from Jigsaw and Linkedin. He said it was about making "meetings" happen. Here's a little more explanation from his blog:
Inquisix is all about sales reps getting a referral to a prospective customer in return for giving a referral to their customer. It’s really a win-win-win-win scenario as each customer has agreed they’re interested in learning about a new solution and each rep gets a warm referral to a new prospect.
But are sales reps willing to do favors? Do they make an introduction to one of their customers on behalf of another sales rep? Of course they do - it may be a “you owe me one for next time” type of favor but that’s how it works - just make sure you give as many favors as you get!
See the difference about the way I network and the way Mike's system may work? I would never "tit for tat" referrals. It's not about reciprocity. Getting and giving referrals isn't like trading baseball cards. It's about connecting a seller with a buyer who needs their help and has expressed interest in getting help from someone. There's no scorecard or leaderboard. No points. It's a lot closer to the Golden Rule: Treat others as you'd like to be treated.
Of course, if the success of jigsaw is any indication, there are many salespeople who are willing to do what's in their immediate short term self interest. Hopefully, they have the best interest of their clients as a priority. And if the fact that LinkedIn hasn't really taken off [as a useful tool on a daily basis] among small business owners is any indication, there's room for a more direct approach like Inquisix's. But, I'd favor a system that focusses on letting "good networkers" connect people with a need with the people with the best solution. Looking forward to the launch of Inquisix, Mike. Hopeful it helps move networking further online.