Step 13: Grow Your Evangelist Network
Written by Dave Lorenzo on December 11, 2015 / 60 Second Sale
This is step thirteen in the free sales course and it is titled: Grow Your Evangelist Network.
Step Thirteen Grow Your Evangelist Network
We’re back with step number 13. This specific step is designed to grow your evangelist network. We’re specifically focused on people who are going to refer you business now, so we’re looking to grow your evangelist network. I’m going to give you some very specific focus steps to do just that.
As a reminder, the most powerful way for you to be introduced to someone is by someone who’s endorsing you, by someone who’s saying that you’re the best thing since sliced bread, and that’s what your evangelists are to you. They’re people who have never invested in your services but they’re big advocates for you in your business.
Step number 1, growing your evangelist network is hosting quarterly dinners where you invite evangelists and introduce them to one another. You could host a dinner and invite 10 people that you know have never met each other before and introduce specific people to others who will do business with them. This shows that you have an external orientation. It shows that you’re focused on helping them grow and develop their business, and it shows that you’re interested in them and their success. They will reciprocate. By doing this you’re really teaching them how you want to be introduced to people. You host the dinner, and it’s a very casual thing. You sit people next to one another and you have them introduce themselves. Then you bring people together you think would be good business partners, and you tell them why you think they’d be good business partners. This can be in casual conversation, you can work your way around the room in doing that. That’s why I most often advocate that you only invite 10 people to these things because you’ll have 5 pairs of people. You want to spend 10 or 15 minutes introducing them, making sure that the conversation gets started. These quarterly dinners are phenomenal ways for you to connect people who are valuable to you, and who connect you to business. That’s action item number 1 in step 13, hosting these evangelist dinners to connect people to each other.
Action item number 2 is to become a leader in a business organization. I see this most often when executives get involved in large business organizations like the United Way, but you can do it with your local Chamber of Commerce. Now here’s the thing. This is a significant investment of time, and most often it will result in you meeting people who will be happy to refer and introduce you, but it won’t result in a lot of business for you directly. If you have a mature book of business and you’re already successful, you may want to reach out and join a business organization where there are people who are decision makers in the room at every single meeting. The key here is you have to take on a leadership role in that organization. Unless you can ascend to a leadership role within 6 to 8 months I would advise you to stay away from business organizations, simply because they’re a lot of time, and the one-on-one networking is nowhere near as valuable as the time you’re going to invest in it. The key, if you want to get involved in a business organization, is to ascend to a leadership role quickly, because that will allow you to enhance your stature, and people will then want to recommend you. You can do it if you can get into a leadership role quickly; otherwise I recommend that you pass on that opportunity.
Action item number 3, take on a role in a structured networking organization. You’re a sales professional or you’re a business owner and you want more business and you want business from evangelists, you want people to refer you. You should join a group like BNI or LeTip. These are structured organizations where they teach people how to refer one another business. You commit that you’re going to live by a code of ethics and you’re always going to operate with integrity. That is comforting to folks who are in sales roles and who are also leaders of businesses, who are entrepreneurial. If you want to get into these organizations I think it’s fantastic. Get into a structured networking organization where it’s one member per profession. You should invest time in growing that network, and make sure that people understand the value you provide.
Now, the key element is that you may maximize your participation in that group within 3 to 5 years, and you have to recognize it when you do and not become complacent. Keep in mind that you’re there for the evangelist opportunities. You’re not there to sell each of the people in the room on your product or service. You’re there for them to recommend you to other people, so you have to be very clear on how they can do it, what they should listen for and how they should introduce you. This involves work. It involves a specific commitment of time each and every week. You need to have that time available.
This structured networking works very well for start-ups, it works very well for professionals, like lawyers, accountants, realtors. It works very well for people who are in service-oriented business where it’s personal service. If you’re not in one of those areas, you need to be very careful and make sure you vet the organization before you join it. Interview the members. Talk to them about referrals they’ve passed, referrals they’ve received, and make sure they’re the right evangelists for you and your business.
Action item number 4 is ascend to a leadership role in a trade organization. Every group, every industry has industry groups, has trade groups that belong to that industry. You can join those if you can get into a leadership role quickly. The benefit of doing that is for people to say that you are the person who’s the President of XYZ Organization in your trade, in your profession. If you can do that, that will make the most sense for you. if you can’t get into a leadership role at least at the regional level or at the national level, stay away from trade organizations. Go to them for education, I think that’s valuable, but don’t expect business to come from it. Unless you ascend to a leadership role in a trade organization you’re not going to be successful at developing business from evangelists. Join trade organizations at the regional or national level if you can get into a leadership role and people will refer you business from other parts of the country.
Action item number 5, form your own networking group. This can be really powerful. It can be super powerful for you to round up people with whom you do business on a regular basis. Perhaps you’re a vendor to them or they’re a vendor to you, and you want to start referring more business to each other. You can form your own networking group and schedule meetings and meet on a regular basis. This offers you the opportunity to control the entire process. It offers you the opportunity to choose who to let in. It offers you the opportunity to invite new people, which in and of itself can produce business. It also is a tremendous responsibility, so you need to have admin support in your office. You need to have administrative support in your office, but forming your own networking group is a great way to meet new evangelists who will go out and refer you to other people.
Action item number 6 is creating a group around a special interest. Let’s say you have a particular hobby. You can form a group around that hobby and use it to do business as well. Golf is perfect for this. There are many golf groups out there right now where people get together and they golf once a week and they discuss business while they’re golfing. They set up different foursomes based on people who could potentially do business together or who could potentially refer business together. You can use any activity for this purpose. You can use bowling, you can use poker. Forming a meeting, a regular meeting around a specific activity is great because the activity is the excuse to get together, and it’s a great way to do business with people who you’ve come to know through some other means. By all means form that type of group, and meet one another, refer business to one another, do business with evangelists in that way.
Action item number 7 is what I call the Big 5. This is a meal period that you invite 5 people to. You can do it once a quarter, you can do it twice a year. They are 5 people who are in totally unrelated businesses but they’re the 5 most interesting people you know. You invite them to lunch or even better invite them to dinner. Invite them to bring their significant others, invite them to bring their partners, their spouses, and just have a great dinner. Ask interesting questions, have interesting discussions, and you will find that people begin to form relationships and begin to refer business to one another. You can do this, as I said, quarterly or twice a year, different people each time. Encourage the people to keep in touch as a result. That makes them view you as a connector. Each of those 5 people at that a dinner will see you trying to connect them with other people. They will do the same for you, and it’s a way for you to enhance your relationship with your evangelist partners, with the people who are out there promoting your business.
These 7 action items are designed specifically for evangelists. Now, you can absolutely use them with clients, but these are the 7 that we’ve tested over the years that work phenomenally well at enhancing relationships from referral sources. If you want to drive more business to your company through referrals, use these 7 action items generously throughout the course of the year, even if you have to fund them out of your own pocket, because the return on investment will be tenfold from people who are evangelists for you and for your business.