At the heart of relationship marketing is our ecosystem of relationships, which enable us to do all that we do. The fastest and easiest way to grow and expand the ecosystem of people we have relationships with, is to simply ask those people who already know, like and trust us, to introduce us to new people.
Recently I had dinner with a partner of one of the big four professional services firms. We have known each other for a number of years, and during that time he has been a significant client. Midway through our meal I asked him if there was anyone else he thought I should meet at the firm. It was a very natural, simple ask, and didn’t feel uncomfortable or contrived. He pondered and responded, asking if I knew the head of partner affairs and the chief learning officer. I said that I did not, but would welcome doing so, and the following day he facilitated an introduction for me to each person.
There are a range of approaches to introductions in relationship marketing. The highest risk is the self-introduction; the classic ‘cold call’ in which you do not know the client. Secondly, there is the facilitated introduction, where there is a ‘ trust transfer’ between the introducer and the introduced in the eyes of the client. Thirdly, we have the targeted referral, which differs from the introductions described because it is made at the time of client need. Finally, you have the brand advocate, who in a non-paid capacity is a walking testimonial to the value of your work to prospective clients, and talks about you virtually everywhere they go.
Of course these introductions can also be played out on line through platforms such as LinkedIn. However for the value to be realised, they need to become human at some point.
I’m sure there is no one reading this, that doesn’t agree with what I’ve said so far. In which case, why do we not receive more introductions and referrals? So much of relationship marketing is common sense because it flows with the natural rhythms of genuine relationships. However, where we fall short is not knowledge, but practice. We may know what to do, but do we do it?
The difference between good and great relationship builders is execution. When was the last time you asked someone if there was anyone else they think you should meet? If you are asking someone you have an established relationship with, it’s the most natural question in the world to ask. Why don’t you try it?
Relationship Marketing Question: Who are you going to ask ‘Who else do you think I should meet?’
Author: Matt Bird, Relationship Marketing