Does Your Referral Network Remember Your Message


To Get Referrals; Your Referral Network Must Know Your Message

Is the message you give your referral network effective or is it lost in the clutter? To have an effective referral network; your members must know your message succinctly and clearly. If they don’t; not only will they not refer you, they can’t refer you! They simply do not have the necessary information.

You Must Provide a Clear Message to Your Referral Network

I don’t believe enough can be said about the quality, context and content of your message to your referral network. All small and most medium sized businesses succeed or fail on their ability to get people talking about the business, the individuals, the products and the services; if you can’t get this conversation going, you will not succeed!

Your Message Must Be Easy to Remember

Make it easy on yourself and your referral network; create a easily remembered message. Your referral network wants to help you, but they only have a limited amount of time and bandwidth for it to happen. It’s up to you to create a message they can easily share with their contacts.

Your Message Must Be in the Form of a Story

We have all heard “facts tell and stories sell”; your message to your referral network is no different! You need to give them something they can remember and put to use on your behalf.

Don’t Clutter Your Message with Too Much Information

Most organizations and individuals clutter their messages. They create a message which lacks focus and can’t stick with the audience. The problems come from a position of fear. People are afraid they will miss an opportunity because they don’t share a particular fact; instead they share too many facts and nothing gets communicated or remembered.

You must be specific with your message. Decide the specifics of what you want to communicate and then focus. Avoid over communicating and cluttering; make it easy for your network to remember.

If the message cannot stick; your referral network will not remember!

You Need To Make Your Message Sticky

Chip and Dan Heath wrote a book a few years ago Made to Stick and this is what you must do with your message. You message must stick with your audience. It goes back to the old speech writer’s or presenter’s instructions; tell your audience what you are going to tell them, tell them and then tell your audience what you told them.

Your message must be one specific message and your referral audience will help you!

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You Must Speak the Language of Your Referral Network


Do You Speak the Language of Your Audience

Successful networkers, business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, salespeople and others have one significant trait in common; the ability to speak a language their audience understands. The ability to speak in a manner your audience understands is the key to effectively delivering your message! This is especially true with your referral network; the topic of this article.

If your referral network doesn’t understand your message; they will be ineffective in providing referrals and, in most cases, they will not even make an attempt on your behalf. Your referral network wants a message which is clear, to the point and easy to remember. Anything else and your attempts to convey your message will be wasted effort.

Things to Avoid When Delivering Your Message

Things you want to avoid in your message:

  • TMI – Too Much Information;
  • Overuse of industry jargon and acronyms;
  • Complex terms and descriptions;
  • Lists of skills, abilities, products and services;
  • Irrelevant references and information;
  • Too many options;
  • The appearance of a “Jack of All Trades, but Master of None”; and
  • Trust, reliability and credibility issues.

TMI – Too Much Information

Sometimes we get carried away when we start talking about what we do or have to offer. If your goal is to educate your referral network they must have a clear understanding of what you do, the products you sell or the services you provide. You need to know and be able to convey your primary message.

Overuse of Industry Jargon and Acronyms

Your goal should not be to make your referral network an expert in your field. (As a side note, if a conversation can rapidly create experts; you have a bigger problem to address!) You want to avoid using jargon and acronyms because your referral network, most likely, will not remember these terms or, at least, be unable to explain the terms. Rather than be embarrassed, they will not give the referral!

Your job is not to impress your referral network; your job is to educate your referral network!

Complex Terms and Descriptions

This is a big problem for many professionals whether they are doctors, engineers, computer nerds (I’m one so I can say this) or others where there are many complex terms. Using these terms may impress your referral network or most others in your audience; but they won’t bring you referrals. Your referral network must be able to easily tell your story. If they can’t; they won’t!

Lists of Skills, Abilities, Products and Services

Lists will be forgotten. Pick one or two, at the most, important points and then use those points in a story explaining the value provided. People remember stories, they do not remember lists.

Irrelevant References and Information

Don’t bog your audience down with unnecessary information. You want them to remember the important points so don’t get carried away with irrelevant details. Make your story easy and, even better, enjoyable to relate.

Too Many Options

Focus on the key points you want your audience to remember! Don’t give them a list of options and hope they remember something. Make it easy for them to make your case and refer you.

The Appearance of a “Jack of All Trades, but Master of None”

In an attempt to avoid missing opportunities we often try to present ourselves as being able to do anything and everything. Your referral network will never be able to figure this out and effectively refer you. They may give a referral saying you can do anything, but it diminishes your value and your ability to be compensated for the value you bring to the table. People will take advantage of you and without the initial specificity you will be hard pressed to argue the point.

Trust, Reliability and Credibility Issues

Lastly the language you speak MUST speak to your trust, reliability and credibility. These traits are critical to a strong referral network. If the members of your referral network have any doubts or concerns regarding your trust, reliability and credibility; they will not take a chance and refer you. Your referral network has built a relationship with their network and they will not risk jeopardizing those relationships on someone they do not find trustworthy, reliable or credible.

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Credibility: Your Most Important Ability


Do You Have Credibility with Your Network?

You may have many skills and abilities, but if your credibility suffers or you have no credibility: you have a problem! If your credibility is called into question people will not hire you, will not refer you and will do all they can to avoid you.

Your Credibility Is Key to Successful Networking

Whether you are meeting someone face-to-face, through a Social Network or on-line using Skype or Google+; you must be able to quickly begin establishing your credibility. If your new connection doesn’t see you as credible the relationship doesn’t have the necessary foundation to blossom.

Face-To-Face Meetings

If you are meeting face-to-face; you may be able to create credibility by simply being a good listener. Many people like to talk and being a good or great listener can get you far along the path of credibility. Of course, you may leave the conversation with a not-so-great impression of the other person; but you have done your part to sell yourself and that is important!

Meeting Through Social Networking

When you are meeting someone through social networking the content of your profile must carry the load for you and allow people to draw a positive conclusion about who you are and your values. Your profile must establish your credibility!

Your credibility is established with your headline, picture and summary. Your credibility is enhanced by the completeness of your experience, education, skills, interests, recommendations (given and received) and skills.

An incomplete or sketchy profile leaves questions in the mind of the person viewing your profile. Depending upon the reason for the visit a poor profile may cause them to leave and never return. Are you prepared to run the risk?

I have read many profiles where the intent appears to be convincing the reader of the profile owner’s credibility; that’s the wrong way to go about it! You can’t tell people about your credibility; you need to show actions which allow people to come to their own conclusions either on their own or with input from others; if you are depending upon your ability to convince them… Good Luck!

Meeting On-Line

When you are meeting on-line you must be prepared and present yourself properly; again this is your chance to make a great first impression and start establishing your credibility. This is not the time to be in sweats, curlers, pajamas or anything other than business casual to professional attire.

If you are meeting on-line, you also need to ensure all of your technology is working properly and you know how to use it correctly. This is not the time to be learning. I’m speaking somewhat from experience. I was doing an on-line meeting and I wasn’t prepared; fortunately it wasn’t our first meeting so I had been able to build some credibility; it suffered a little from the fiasco, but I was able to eventually recover. These are mistakes you don’t need; especially with a new contact.

Your Focus Must Be on Building Your Credibility and Success Will Follow

When you have credibility you can often overcome missing skills, experience, education and other characteristics. Having all the characteristics, skills, experience and education, however, cannot overcome a lack of credibility!

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Remind Me Please; Why Did You Send Me an Invitation on LinkedIn?


Have You Ever Asked Yourself This Question: Why Did This Person Send Me an Invitation on LinkedIn?

Don’t get me wrong I enjoy receiving invitations and connecting on LinkedIn. Most of the time, however, the invitations are disappointing.

When I open the invitation I find the person sending the invitation made no effort to begin a relationship! Most people do not invest the few minutes necessary to actually write a personalized invitation that may open the door to a possible relationship.

Your custom invitation doesn’t need to be elaborate, it should simply give the recipient an idea as to why you want to connect. In fact it can’t be elaborate; you only have 300 characters available so you must be brief, but you can do better than LinkedIn’s default invitation.

Six Reasons Why You Should Customize Your Invitations

  1. To increase the chances your invitation will be accepted and acknowledged;
  2. To begin establishing your credibility and character;
  3. To open a communication channel to the individual;
  4. To show you are more than a numbers person trying to get as many connections as possible;
  5. To start a potential long-term friendship; and
  6. To show you are a member of the top 1% of networkers.

Different Situations Require Different Custom Invitations

Custom invitations are not a one-size fits all solution. Depending upon the situation you need an invitation that makes sense, is relevant to the situation and the individual you are inviting.

You can’t send an invitation saying it is “Great to Reconnect” to a current co-worker or someone you recently met. You will look like an idiot and decrease rather than enhance your credibility.

Some things you can use in your invite:

  1. A reminder of where you met;
  2. A little about the discussion;
  3. A reference to someone you know in common;
  4. A reminder of who you are;
  5. A statement of why you want to connect (don’t be asking for something); or
  6. An edifying, but honest, statement saying why you admire the individual and want to connect.

You can also reach out with an initial message, if the option is offered, or use “LinkedIn InMail”.

How to Customize an Invite

To customize your invitation you must invite from the person’s profile page by clicking connect. I have found some of the other connect buttons will simply send off an invite without the opportunity to customize. Personally I have found the best solution is to work from the profile page to be safe.

When the default invitation comes up; delete the LinkedIn suggestion and start typing your own invitation, thank the person for their consideration and put in your signature. Remember this is all part of your 300 characters even the dash LinkedIn inserts in front of your name.

Do you need some great resources to help your networking? Check out my Amazon Networking Reading List!

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The Lost Art of THINKing


The Lost Art of THINKing

THINKing has become a lost art! One of the messages conveyed by Earl Nightingale in his 1950’s classic “The Strangest Secret” was the comment from Dr. Albert Schweitzer about man’s problem being the lack of THINKing!

Today it’s no different! In our tough economy people are constantly looking to others to solve their problems or to find the answers. In reality we can solve our own problems and find our own answers if we choose to do our own THINKing and ACTing!

We can’t leave the work, we must do, to someone else; we must take responsibility!

You Need to Think from the Outside Your Box

You may believe you have heard this before but this is different! If you are paying attention and THINKing about what you just read, you recognize the difference! Most of us are familiar with people saying “You must think outside the box.” What they mean is you need to look beyond the normal pool of answers for something new.

I disagree!

I believe you must stand outside your box and look in!

Inside your box you will find all the skills, abilities, education and experiences you have had and the stories telling how you used those personal attributes. The stories you find will help you better understand what you have given to customers and employers and what you have to give to your future customers and employers.

Inside Your Box You Will Find the Stories to Tell Your Referral Network

The idea is you want to look into the box to see all you have done throughout your career. You want to see the stories of how you applied your skills, abilities, education and experience. When you see the stories from your past; they will serve two purposes: 1) give you the stories you need as you describe to your referral network how you applied your skills, abilities, education and experience to solve problems and 2) help you to rebuild your self-confidence and self-esteem.

Additionally the process does one more thing; it gets you THINKing again. THINKing for many is not a regular practice and ACTing on those thoughts is even more foreign for most. However, THINKing and ACTing are two skills you must put to work, so you can get back to work!

Experiencing the “What If” Syndrome

If you are unemployed or under employed; I’m willing to wager that at some point in the past you have gone through the “what if” process. What if I could do what I want to do? What if I hadn’t been pushed into this or that career? What if I had followed that dream or idea? We have all had these thoughts and we have allowed them to fall to the ground; to go unrealized!

Yes, there are plenty of excuses: timing, finances, family obligations, lack of time, not knowing how to start, not being sure of what resources would be required, etc. Well it’s time to put the excuses behind you and move forward. You need to THINK and ACT; you cannot delay.

My THINKing Story

After 9/11/2001, like many, my business was turned upside down. The contract work I had been doing dried up. I had to do something, but I struggled trying to figure things out. The reason I struggled – I wasn’t THINKing! I wanted things to recover quickly and, as a result, I waited around for the recovery to occur. Guess what? It didn’t!

At this point I wasn’t suffering from the problem of looking to someone else for answers; I was simply sitting and waiting for things to happen. It doesn’t work that way; if you sit around and wait for things to happen; sure enough they will – it’s just the things which happen are not the things you want.

What you get are bills piling up, endless frustration, family issues, bill collectors calling, utility shut off notices and scrimping to buy food and gas.

Eventually I gathered myself together and started THINKing from outside my box. I looked at the current economic climate and the skills employers were desperately looking to add. Having worked for many years in the technology space I came to the conclusion I should position myself as an IT Security Specialist. To read the story of how I was able to re-craft myself check out My 9/11 Story.

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My name is Tom Staskiewicz and my goal is to help everyone do a little better, get a little further and reach the success they are destined to achieve!

Do you need help with your message? Are you struggling for people to know you and what you have to offer? If so, I can help. My contact information is below or Email  Me Now! and lets get started.

Whatever I can do to help you or anyone to move forward in reaching your goals; I’m all for it. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Check out the UPPROACH site and sign up for our newsletter of career tips and ideas for job seekers, small and medium business owners, self-employed individuals, contractors, consultants or whatever; anyone wanting to move their career forward!

How Not to Use LinkedIn


How Not to Use LinkedIn

Today I received a boilerplate invitation to connect on LinkedIn; which I feel is a learning lesson on what NOT to do! I checked out the profile and connections in common, accepted and wrote a thank you. Shortly after I received this “Tom, I am looking for individuals connected into the community to connect me into some top sales opportunity. Are you a potential resource?”

If I Say I’m Not a Potential Resource Will I Be Dropped as a Connection

As I read the comment it makes me wonder if I will be deleted as a connection unless I agree to be a potential resource. I don’t really care one way or the other; but the invitation and comment do not sit well with me.

I’ve read about the individuals who are interested in networking only if it benefits them. Go back and read what was said; is there anything in this relationship for me? Is there even a hint of a possibility of there being something in it for me. If so, point it out because I don’t see the value!

Accepting a LinkedIn Invite Is the Beginning of a Relationship

The example in my opening is NOT the way you should be networking! The extending or acceptance of an invitation is the beginning of a relationship; a relationship which must be nurtured. When we start into a relationship both sides must first establish some credibility. We need to show interest in the other person, not just an interest in ourselves.

In my example this guy immediately went for the jugular by asking for a referral: this is bad practice. This guy is on my radar. I don’t want people in my network who abuse the relationship or could indirectly impact my relationship with others. I don’t know if I will keep this individual in my network; I will monitor his activities and make a decision later.

It Is a Bad Practice to Refer Someone You Do Not Know

When you make a referral you are putting your reputation on the line in support of the person you are referring. You may think this is only a referral and not a recommendation; but chances are the other parties in the process see it differently. Both the person you referred and the recipient of the referral feel there is an underlying recommendation in your action. With that being the case; you must be careful with who you refer.

I have had numerous people connect and immediately ask for a referral or recommendation and I don’t really know them that well. Needless to say they did not receive the referral or recommendation. They did, however, get a rebuke by my saying I only give referrals when I have had the chance to get to know you.

I’ve also had people, who are connections, but were lacking in their social skills turn around and ask for a referral or introduction. After being insulted myself am I really going to potentially expose my contacts to the same behavior: absolutely not!

I value my relationships, however limited they may be, with my network members and I am not going to subject them to bad behavior from people I find questionable!

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My name is Tom Staskiewicz and my goal is to help everyone do a little better, get a little further and reach the success they are destined to achieve!

Do you need help with your message? Are you struggling for people to know you and what you have to offer? If so, I can help. My contact information is below or Email  Me Now! and lets get started.

Whatever I can do to help you or anyone to move forward in reaching your goals; I’m all for it. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Check out the UPPROACH site and sign up for our newsletter of career tips and ideas for job seekers, small and medium business owners, self-employed individuals, contractors, consultants or whatever; anyone wanting to move their career forward!

Four Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network


Four Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network

SMBs – Small and Medium Businesses – depend upon referrals, in fact Constant Contact did a study and 82% of the small business owners surveyed said their primary source of growth comes from referrals. Brian Tracy, one of the top business strategists and trainers, once said only 1 or 2 out of every 100 connections will play a role in your business growth. The conclusions… 1) you need to build a Referral Network and 2) you don’t know which connections will deliver business growth through referrals.

If Your Business Growth Depends on Referrals; You Must Have a Strong Referral Network

To survive, your business must continue to grow; referrals from current customers, prospects, family, friends and contacts are integral to the process. So here are the “Three Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network.”

  1. Build Your Network – You never know who will provide your next referral;
  2. Establish Your Credibility – If your referral network doesn’t find you credible; they will not refer people to you;
  3. Explain Your Value Proposition – Your network must understand, not just know, the value you bring; and you must
  4. Keep Yourself in Front of Your Referral Network – You must be Top-O-Mind with your network so they think of you when opportunities develop.

Build Your Referral Network

Building your Referral Network is critical to your growth. You need new people coming in who can promote you, your products and your services. It is true you never know who will provide your next referral, but if you build with the “right” connections you can improve your chances for good referrals. Identify the type of individuals you need in your network so you can target those who have the best potential to bring your referrals.

Your Referral Network Must Find You Credible

If you want your network to refer you to potential customers they must find you credible! If you cannot establish your credibility with your Referral Network; it’s a lost cause.

When someone refers you they are putting their reputation on the line along with yours. If the members of their Referral Network listen to them; they have established credibility within their network and a bad referral could damage their credibility so they must be careful! They are not going to be willing to put their own reputation and credibility at risk for someone they do not know!

You must be credible!

Explain Your Value Proposition to Your Referral Network

Your Referral Network must understand the value you bring. Many people try to do this by listing their skills and, in all honesty, this doesn’t work. When people hear a list of skills, at best, they will remember a few and probably with little accuracy. What you want is to tell your audience stories about the things you have done. If you are talking about skills; explain them in a story. It is much easier to remember stories and easier to relate those stories to others. Stories also help with connecting the dots as opportunities are explained.

Stories also add to your credibility. Stories help things become real in the mind of the listener and they become more interested in your situation and helping you.

Keep Yourself in Front of Your Referral Network

The last thing you must do is keep yourself in front of your Referral Network. Stay in touch, keep them apprised of what you are doing; let them know about the projects where you are engaged or recently completed.

You also want to stay in front of your Referral Network by acknowledging the things they, their families, and their companies do; if you read about something positive, let them know. You also must acknowledge any events in their lives you know. If you know about birthdays and anniversaries wish them well or congratulations. If there is a job change, new venture, promotion or other event; send or post an acknowledgement.

If members of your network post something take a moment and click like or comment. This accomplishes two things 1)it acknowledges their activity and raises your credibility in the eyes of the individual and 2) if you are regular in the process it raises your credibility in the eyes of the other members of your Referral Network! You are in front of your network, not promoting anything of yours, but promoting your network members and their activities. People appreciate seeing you be positive and helpful to themselves and others.

There you have it Four Easy Ways to Double the Effectiveness of Your Referral Network: Build Your Network, Establish Your Credibility, Explain Your Value Proposition and Keep Yourself in Front of Your Referral Network!

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My name is Tom Staskiewicz and my goal is to help everyone do a little better, get a little further and reach the success they are destined to achieve! Let me know what you think of my articles; are they helpful? If you like what I have to say; please follow my blog so you don’t miss any of my posts.

Do you need help building credibility with your Referral Network? Are you struggling for people to know you and what you have to offer? If so, I can help. My contact information is below or Email  Me Now! and lets get started.

Whatever I can do to help you or anyone to move forward in reaching your goals; I’m all for it. Connect with me on LinkedIn, Like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter.

Check out the UPPROACH site and sign up for our newsletter of career tips and ideas for job seekers, small and medium business owners, self-employed individuals, contractors, consultants or whatever; anyone wanting to move their career forward!