Generating Business Leads that Matter
If you don't need any new business leads, stop reading. Or better yet, comment on this post and tell me what business you're in. The truth in business today is that most of us need leads. We network for them, we market for them, heck, sometimes we'll even beg for them. But, the secret about leads is in the old Billy Joel song - it's a matter of trust. When you are trusted, you are referred.
All the network groups will tell you that to get leads, you need to give leads. That's not necessarily true. It does make networking groups look more successful, but it won't necessarily generate leads.
All your networking is for not if you don't establish a report of trust with people. All the parties you host, all the degrees you display don't mean anything compared to the trust people feel they can place in you. The reason trust plays such a big part in referral leads is that people don't want to send their friends to someone who might not deliver what they promise.
Establishing trust isn't really as hard as you might think. It's not nearly as hard as regaining it. First impressions count. What you wear, what you say and how you treat everybody you meet, will immediately establish a level of trust from those around you.
Dress to Fit In
If the people you are meeting dress in khakis and golf shirts, don't show up in an Armani suit. Likewise, don't show up in jeans and a t-shirt. You are not there to show your style and independent nature. Nor are you their to fluff your ego with a display of break away style. I like to gauge my dress to be at or just one step above the level of formality I expect at an event or meeting. Leave the cuff-links or the cut-offs for another venue. Fit in and look professional; wow them with your expertise.
Your 30 second elevator introduction may be honed to grab the widest possible audience. You may believe that casting a big net will give you options on the kinds of jobs you accept. Think again. If people don't understand right away what you really do, they will not feel comfortable referring a lead, because they won't know if you can deliver.
For instance, I might be tempted to to say "I'm Bob Shawgo, and I brand companies on the internet." It's a wide net, right. Every company needs a web presence, right. The problem is, the other person doesn't know if I build web sites, run internet ad campaigns, or sell banner ads. A more specific introduction might be, "I'm Bob Shawgo, and I build content-rich web site systems, and train people on how they can develop on-going content that increases their web site ranking." It's specific and concise.
A clear introduction of what you do sets the stage for talking specifically about some of your successes and expressing your clear desire that you want to help others succeed. This is where your lead giving comes into place. You give leads as a demonstration that you are interested in the success of others. People want to know that you will follow through and help their friends succeed.
Everyone is Important
Dave Barry once wrote that "someone who is nice to
you but rude to the waiter is not a nice person." Treat everyone as though they were your biggest customer - yes, even the waiter. Treat them well not because they may someday be a customer - that's ridiculous and self-serving. Treat them that way because they are human beings. And trust will be placed where trust is merited.
If you're running around trying to find and develop leads, stop and consider how you are building trust and what you could do better. Then go out and deliver.