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From Lunch to Referrals

Sharing your expertise while breaking bread is a good way to get introductions.

By Bill Cates, CSP

With the do-not-call regulations, personal introductions are more important than ever. This article highlights proven strategies you can use to gain personal introductions to great prospects.

Lunch & Learns
A productive way to meet prospects is through a Lunch & Learn, which allows you to be in front of 5-10 prospects who have been invited by one of your clients, friends or even a prospect.

At a Lunch & Learn, you spend about 10-15 minutes speaking to the attendees about an important financial topic. If you can keep the attendees in the same age group, industry or financial situation, you can further tailor your remarks to their specific financial or life concerns. Whatever you choose to talk about, make it timely and relevant.

Some reps like to hang around for the lunch while others leave the folks to socialize. The stronger your relationship with the person who helped you set up the event, the more you’ll want to stick around to socialize or answer questions.

Getting people to lunch
So how do you get people to this event? First, ask your clients. A client who is unwilling to introduce you to specific individuals for one-on-one contact may be willing to help put a small group together. Also, a client who has already given you some referrals should be willing to extend his influence on your behalf with this type of event.

Another way to get people to your event is with the “Fish Bowl” approach. Ask a restaurant owner for permission to put a fish bowl in a visible place in his restaurant and offer a free lunch for up to 10 people. Patrons will drop their business cards in the bowl. To remain perfectly do-not-call safe, let them know you will be calling them. Call the people who drop their cards and explain what you do. Tell them that in exchange for your ability to deliver some valuable financial planning information , you will pick up the tab for the lunch—for up to 10 people.

Make sure the owner understands that the bowl could generate a ton of lunch business for him. Often, restaurants will give you a nice discount for this arrangement. Another way to assemble your group is through your natural market—your friends, family members and colleagues from your former employment.

The more established your business, the more care you will want to take in ensuring that every attendee fits your ideal client profile.

Of course, this Lunch & Learn concept can easily be translated to other events such as a golf lesson or a group manicure. Tap into the interests of your client, because they know people with similar interests.

In-house seminars
Are you using seminars to their full advantage? Many of your clients would be willing to help you get in front of their peers at work in an educational setting. Often, where they might be unwilling to introduce you one on one, they’ll work to create an event at their office.

Unlike Lunch & Learns whose educational component is brief, in-house seminars can go from 30 to 60 minutes. Make sure you have a sign-up sheet to capture the names and contact information of the attendees. By the way, in-house seminars can also be held in places of worship, country clubs and many other venues. If you have a marketing budget, or sponsorship, you might be able to provide lunch or an after-work snack.

In-house seminars have been an effective way to meet prospects in person. Make sure they are a big part of your marketing plan.

Regardless of the event you choose, here’s my formula for speaking in front of a group in a prospecting mode:

  • Educate. Provide tangible value to your group.

  • Entertain. Be natural and genuine, and have fun.

  • Entice. Entice them to want to know more.

Bill Cates, CSP, is the author of Get More Referrals Now! and Don’t Keep Me a Secret! Contact him at Info@ReferralCoach.com.


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