Follow the steps under the critical contact networking program and you will more than quadruple what you are getting from networking. That’s what Dr. Charles Legalos and Nick Ray, CLU, RHU, ChFC, MBC, said at the 2008 NAIFA Convention and Career Conference. Legalos is a partner, program developer and senior trainer with Critical Contacts Incorporated and Ray is a business coach who works with financial-service professionals.
The program is based on research that Legalos undertook on people who were getting the best results out of networking. Legalos and Ray shared some components of the program to help you make the most of your networking activities.
A target market is a group of people who meet and communicate with each other on a regular basis.
Discover a target market that’s profitable for you. Although it takes time and effort to discover your target market, the long-term benefit of doing so is that it saves you time and work. It can cut your prospecting time by 50 to 80 percent, Legalos said. But most people are afraid to target. They think, “If I focus on this much, I’m going to lose all,” he said. So rather than focus, they try to be everything to everybody, but end up being nothing to anybody.
The fact is that only some people will buy from you—and that’s your target market. “If you can figure out what it is that makes those people buy from you, then you can begin to figure out what the target is,” Legalos said. Simply put, a target market is a group of people who meet and communicate with each other on a regular basis. Examples of target markets include parents of disabled children; 40- to 55-year old, single, risk-taking women; advanced age, uninsurable seniors; and founder-managed light manufacturing businesses with 15 to 25 employees.
Ray said that in order to discover your target market, you can use three tools. Before you start, keep handy a list of all your clients. The first tool—the invisible market matrix—helps you discover who your preferred client is. In other words, who are the people who have chosen you? The preferred client profile consists of people who want to do business with you and you want to do business with them. There may be other clients who want to do business with you, but you don’t want to do business with them. In your client list, strike out the names of clients you don’t want to do business with.
The next tool is the life interest inventory. What are you interested in? What do you like to do? What’s of importance to you? When you complete the invisible market matrix, you will probably see that there’s a correlation between why people chose you and what your interests are. “So the more consciousness you can bring to that understanding, the more you can hone in on who your target market is,” Ray said.
Lastly, you want to figure out who you’ve given referrals to and who’s given referrals to you. In developing a network of people who will send you business, you’ve got to have a target market, you’ve got to send referrals to people in that target market, and you want to see if the people sending you referrals are doing the same thing.
Find watering holes and hangouts, and create saltlicks. Watering holes and hangouts are places where your target market gathers naturally. For instance, parents of disabled children would probably go to watering holes and hangouts, such as Parents Helping Parents, Exceptional Parents Unlimited, East Bay Learning Disabilities Association, etc. A saltlick is an event you put together to attract members of your target market. These could include special events or seminars on topics such as annuities.
After finding these places, you want to measure how much access you have to those venues before you decide to invest time and energy on developing that market. The aim is to meet prospects in groups. When you select your target market members and put them in one place, it gives you tremendous leverage, Legalos said.
Identify major issues and centers of service. What are some of the issues facing parents of disabled children? These include care after the parents' demise, cost of specialized education, providing care 24/7, etc. The people who help the parents tackle these issues are called the centers of service.
Who are the people who serve the target market of parents with disabled children? These include special-education teachers, family therapists, nurse practitioners, estate and will attorneys, and pediatricians. These are the people who work in your target market, the people you should send referrals to and the people who send you referrals.
Build a relationship. Once you have identified your centers of service, build a relationship with them. “What you want to do is to understand your marketplace so well that you can help the centers of service, and they can refer to you as well,” Legalos said.