Perhaps my favorite business relationship-building question – the one I call “The One Key Question That Will Set You Apart” – is, “How can I know if someone I’m speaking with would be a good prospect for you?”
This not only causes you to focus on how to add value to this person and the new relationship . . . it also communicates the fact that you are focused on adding value to this person and the relationship.
People who ask this question see magical things happen and new worlds (and potential prospects and referral sources) open up before their eyes.
However, one reader, Scott, asks: “What do you do when you know in advance that you really cannot give someone a referral. I’m in a BNI (The World’s Largest Referral Exchange Organization) group and there are people in certain businesses within my group who I am committed to referring to. Do I not offer to refer this new person business, or is there another way to handle the situation?”
Excellent question, Scott. The same would also hold true with any niche market you’re working where you are the supplier to many people in that field and certainly it would not be realistic to think you could refer to all of them. And, of course, it would be unethical to suggest you would when you know you wouldn’t.
The solution is simply to keep in mind that the main goal is to constantly and consistently “add value” to their lives and businesses. There are many ways you can do this besides direct referrals.
For example, information that would help them in business that you see from an article (either in traditional media or online), recommending books on general sales/businesses or something relating specifically to their industry, sending small booklets that are inexpensive but will have high impact. You can add value through a touch campaign such as do many of my clients and friends at SendOutCards.
Also, the more you can find out about them personally via the F-O-R-M method; knowing about their FAMILY, OCCUPATION, RECREATION and MESSAGE (things that are important to them such as a charity they work with), the more ways to provide value become available.
You can also introduce them to people who may be of value yet are not direct referrals.
So, there are many ways to do this, limited only by your imagination. The key question to ask yourself is, “In what way can I add value to this person’s life and business?”