At Mindmaven, we believe the best things in life and business come from our relationships—our network—or from those we know and trust.
Think back on the best opportunities you’ve encountered and there’s a good chance most if not all of them happened because someone in your network thought of you at the right time.
Many of these opportunities come in the form of referrals—and if you’re in a service-based business, those referrals are in many ways the lifeblood of your success. So the question is … How do you increase the number of referrals you generate (and, as a result, the success of your business)?
In this post, I’ll share a simple strategy that’ll allow you to do just that but—before we get there—we need to answer an important question …
What Drives Referrals?
I’ve asked this question hundreds of times and am always surprised by the answers. They usually sound something like this:
- “If you work hard, referrals naturally come.”
- “Focus on delivering a great experience and referrals will follow.”
- Or, the most common, “I don’t know, they just … Happen, sometimes.”
And while I don’t want to diminish the importance of hard work or delivering great experiences, those answers don’t capture the whole truth. Referral generation is a repeatable process driven by two factors. Once you understand it, you can leverage that process to increase the number of opportunities you encounter.
So what are the two factors?
Factor #1: Timing
Timing is exactly what it sounds like: The specific point in time someone in your network encounters the type of opportunity you want to hear about. For example: If you’re a venture capitalist looking for early-stage startups to invest in, “timing” would be the moment in time when one of your portfolio CEOs meets an up-and-coming founder who’s about to start fundraising.
The problem is, we have no control over timing. You can’t “force” anyone in your network to be at the right place in the right time. That’s why the second factor’s so important.
Factor #2: Mindshare
Mindshare is the ability of someone in your network to think of you when they encounter the types of opportunities you want to hear about.
To continue the example above: If you’re a VC looking to invest in early-stage startups, mindshare would influence how likely one of your portfolio CEOs is to think of you (rather than one of the many other investors they know) when they encounter that up-and-coming startup CEO.
Simply put: The more mindshare you have with someone, the more likely they are to think of you in the face of opportunity. Even more simply: More mindshare equals more referrals. So the final question we need to ask before moving on to our tip is …
How Do You Increase Mindshare?
This is a bigger topic than we can get into in this blog post, so I’ll just focus on the basics: The mindshare you enjoy with someone is driven by the quality and frequency of your interactions.
Immediately following a quality interaction with someone—whether it’s a lunch meeting, phone call, or email—the mindshare you have with them is at 100%. In other words, if they encounter someone who needs what you offer right after interacting with you, it’s very likely they’ll think of and send the referral to you.
But mindshare decays over time, so it’s important to have regular, quality interactions with the right people in our network to ensure mindshare never drops below the threshold where someone’s unlikely—or even unable—to think of us in the face of opportunity.
Again, that’s a simplified answer to the question, but it provides enough context for the rest of this to make sense. Long-story-short, maintaining your mindshare means consistently delivering quality interactions to your network, which brings us to our tip …
One Simple Habit to Maximize Mindshare and Generate More Opportunities from Your Network
Maintaining your mindshare doesn’t have to be difficult, and I can prove it. If you want to increase the number of opportunities you’re generating from your network, simply adopt this habit:
Send one email a day to someone you wouldn’t otherwise have contacted.
At first, that may seem too simple. But think about it: If you practice this habit every weekday, by the end of the year you’ll have sent around 260 messages you wouldn’t otherwise have sent.
And while there’s no such thing as a guarantee in relationships, my experience has shown it’s incredibly likely that at least one of those emails will lead to an opportunity you wouldn’t otherwise have experienced.
Make it the first thing you do each morning, after sitting down in front of your computer. It shouldn’t take more than 5 minutes, and the payoff can be immeasurable.
What Should These Emails Say?
Before we wrap this up, one more tip: Perhaps the biggest barrier people run into while adopting this habit is not knowing what to say. After all, mindshare is driven by the frequency and quality of your interactions; so it isn’t enough just to add noise to someone’s inbox (that actually does more harm than good). Your emails must provide meaningful, relevant value.
If that challenge resonates with you, check out our free eBook, The Five Freebies: 5 Email Templates You Can Send to Practically Anyone in Your Network at Almost Any Time. It’ll ensure you never have to skip a day because you “don’t know what to say.”
An Offer for Anyone Looking to Reach Their Fullest Potential Through Their Network
I hope this article resonated with you, and that you’ll take me up on the challenge to send one email a day to someone you wouldn’t otherwise have contacted.
It’s a simple-and-powerful tactic, but it’s also only the first step on a journey. If you’re serious about unlocking the full potential of your network, I’d like to invite you to our online program: The Relationship Marketing Crash Course.
It’s a step-by-step guide that’ll give you the tools and information you need to take your relationships, your business, and your life to the next level. If that sounds intriguing, you can learn more about the program here.