As part of the research for ‘The FT Guide To Business Networking’ I spent over thirty hours interviewing international networking experts such as Ivan Misner, as well as ordinary business owners generating great results for their business via networking. In this research I found four ingredients which must be present if you want to routinely generate referrals for your business. Creating and sharing valuable content helps you with all four of these essential elements.
Before someone is willing to recommend you to their network, they need to know that you are credible and reliable – a trustworthy referral. The right type of content will showcase your credibility. For example, a well-written blog demonstrates that you know your stuff and understand the problems your client’s fact. Other credibility builders include client testimonials (try sharing them on your blog and email footer), and an up to date, interesting LinkedIn profile. All these will encourage people to refer and pick up the phone.
2. Personal Brand.
Networking is personal – it’s about you, your ‘brand’ and how you communicate your brand to others. How do you present yourself to the world? If someone Googles your name or company, does the content that ranks highest communicate clearly what you are all about? Make sure your message is consistent where ever people find you. For example, are your tweets based around your area of interest and expertise?
With people’s networks increasing in size rapidly, how do you get to be that trusted person who your network remembers and introduces to others? Perhaps the best personal branding and credibility tool is having your own business book. The heightened visibility and profile which you get with a business book really opens doors and helps people have the confidence to recommend you to others. In the last two months, my book has enabled me to win about £50k of business – and my pipeline has never looked so healthy before.
4. Social Capital.
People help out others in their network, because they want to. If your content is helpful and easily available to your target market, then people are more likely to share it with others and help generate you more referrals.
Networking is the fastest way to grow a business today and valuable content is an essential part of this. Make it easy for people to refer you by creating and sharing useful information that helps solve their problems and meet the challenges they face.