Good advice Charlie. I wrote this back in March but it still applies.
Here’s a networking tip for when you’re out and about spreading the word about your new business. Instead of chatting briefly and exchanging business cards, ask this, “If I were talking to someone who needed your services, what should I say to them?” This gives them the opportunity to give you their 30 second commercial touting their business. Everyone loves to talk about themselves and their business. Then ask them for 10 of their business cards instead of one. Why? Because it says to them that you’re interested in networking with them, instead of just marketing to them directly - like every other sales rep they’ve ever met. It sets you apart.
When you think about it, everyone has a sphere of influence. When you say word of mouth is the best way to grow your business, how do you get that prospect or client to spread the word about your business? It all starts by showing an interest in their business, providing solutions that help them, and above all - great customer service. You’ll never be able to reach their sphere of influence on your own. Ask them for referrals (their sphere of influence) immediately after the sale. They’ve just said YES to your product or service. They know, like and trust you. Take it one step further. Ask them to let the person they just referred to you know that you’ll be calling.
All sales reps know that you have to ask for the sale. The same principle applies in networking - you have to ask for the referral.