Without question, advocacy is the most powerful method for gaining referrals. And equally undeniable is the fact that referrals account for the vast majority of new clients. Now, LinkedIn helps advisors make it easier than ever.
So if you’re willing to saddle up to your computer for about 30 minutes, let’s walk through a simple system for growing your referrals. And you can start right now.
Warning…don’t overcomplicate this process. It can be as easy as it sounds. Plus, you’ll begin generating noticeable results in as little as a couple of weeks.
Here we go…
Step 1: Create a simple list of your possible advocates…start with your top 20. Think about your favorite clients, your best COIs or other members of your fan club (family and friends). If you stop to think about it, there are quite a few folks who are willing go out of their way to help you.
Step 2: If you’re not already connected with your top 20 on LinkedIn, look them up and send a connection request. They’ll be happy you’re thinking about them. Advocates love to be asked for their advice.
Step 3: For those members of your top 20 who are already connections, do a little research. (You can get back to the rest when they accept your connection request.) This is an acceptable practice…that’s why they call LinkedIn a “social network”. Think of it like “business after hours” at the chamber of commerce…you’re supposed to get to know more about the folks you know and meet. Your goal should be to refine what you know about your top 20. Who are their connections? What groups do they belong to? Who would you like to know at their companies? Who would you like to know on the boards they serve? The possibilities are limitless.
Step 4: Once you have a handle on your research process; it’s time to write down the names of 2 or 3 potential referrals for each of your top 20 advocates. This will not be an exact science. Not everyone you pick will be a good fit for your business. But these names are invaluable for helping your advocates help you.
Step 5: Get together with your advocates. You can do it through LinkedIn itself, via email, over the phone or in-person. The more personal you make it, the more effective you’ll be. (I still like in-person meetings best.) Bottom line: leverage what you’ve learned. Connect your appreciation for your advocates to the reason you’d like their opinion on the names you uncovered during your research. Go patiently through your potential referral list…one name at a time. Ask for feedback. Listen. And for each referral you receive, ask for permission to use your advocates name when you make your initial contact. For every name you mention, you’re likely to get at least on referral.
Step 6: Finally, meet with your referrals. Don’t put it off. You can set the stage by reviewing your approach to advocacy. They’ll appreciate your professionalism. You’ll stand out from the crowd.
Step 7: Rinse and repeat. If you spend 15 to 20 minutes on LinkedIn every day, you could build up a true wealth of referrals. And every time you meet with a client, you’ll be prepared to have an advocacy conversation. Some of the advisors I coach use this process as their only source of new business. LinkedIn has made it easier.