One of the best ways to get more clients and grow your business is to leverage your network.

In a recent blog post I showed you How To Nurture Your Network And Earn Trust using three simple strategies:

  1. Share what you know.
  2. Share who you know.
  3. Share how you feel.

Nurturing your network and earning trust with your contacts is invaluable, but the real benefit to your business comes when you leverage that trust into clients or other opportunities.

Everyone Develops Trust At A Different Pace

It’s incredibly important that you remember everyone develops trust at a different pace.

One person in your network may have a great deal of trust in you and want to purchase your services after you’ve shared only one article with them, while someone else may require you to deliver value to them for months before they’d trust you enough to share their email in exchange for your free ebook.

When you make a request of someone in your network it should be proportional to the amount of trust you’ve earned with them. One of the biggest mistakes a business owner can make is to issue a request of someone that isn’t proportional to the trust they’ve earned.

When Have You Earned Enough Trust To Make A Request?

There are no steadfast rules to follow. Like many things in business, you’ll need to use your gut and experience to gauge when you’ve earned enough trust make a request.

If you’re uncertain, alway error on the side of caution. You’re better off making a request that is small in proportion to the trust you’ve earned, than too big. If you abuse a relationship, any trust that you’ve earned could be lost.

How To Leverage Your Network

When you’ve earned enough trust with someone, you can consider one of the following three ways to leverage that trust and make a request.

 

1: Ask Them To Have A Sales Conversation

Some of the people in your network may be potential prospects. Ask them to have a conversation about what it would be like to work with you. Because they already trust you, chances are they’ll be open to the conversation.

Never disguise the purpose of a sales conversation. Be up front when making the request so the prospect knows what to expect. If you aren’t transparent about your intentions the likelihood of them becoming a client is slim and the trust you’ve earned with the prospect will be lost and.

Be confident in your request. If you’ve earned enough trust and you do a good job of communicating how your products or services can meet their needs, the prospect will be happy to have a sales conversation.

I’ve written a post for you on the 10 Steps To The Perfect Sales Conversation.

 

2: Ask Them For Referrals

I believe that referrals are often the single most effective strategy to build a business, especially a service based business.

When someone sends you a referral, the trust they have in you is transferred to the person they’ve referred. And as we know, people will purchase your products and services in direct relation to the amount of trust they have in you, so this transferred trust is incredibly valuable for you and your business.

Take a look at your network and identify those people who are most connected with your ideal clients. If you’ve established enough trust with them, ask if they’ll have a conversation with you about sending referrals.

A word of caution… Simply asking someone to send you referrals is not enough. For referrals to work, you need to create a referral strategy.

I’ve written a post for you on How To Create A Referral Strategy That Gets Results.

 

3: Ask Them To Support Your Business Growth

Some of the people in your network may be able to help you grow your business without becoming a client or referral partner.

Maybe you know a blogger who you can write a guest post for on their blog.

Maybe you know the manager of a local business group who can create a speaking opportunity for you.

Or maybe you know someone who also serves your target market and would be willing to display your promotional materials in their office.

Your network can often help you grow your business in a variety of unique and helpful ways, so be creative with your thinking and requests.

Don’t let the size of your network limit your opportunities. If you don’t know people who can help you grow your business, make new connections.

I’ve written a post for you on How To Grow Your Network.

The Trust Account

Once you’ve earned trust with someone in your network, you must be careful not to undo that trust.

We’ve already noted that your requests must be proportional to the amount of trust you’ve earned, but here is one thing in particular you must avoid when leveraging your network – making requests too frequently.

Think of the trust you’ve earned with your network as currency in a bank account. You deliver value and over time the trust account balance increases along with the proportional requests you can make.

If you attempt to make too many withdrawals (i.e. requests) in a short period of time, that account balance will drop considerably.

The 90/10 Rule

A good rule of thumb to keep in mind when leveraging your network is the 90/10 rule.

This rule says that 90% of the time you should deliver relevant value to your network, and the remaining 10% of the time you will have earned the opportunity to make requests and leverage the trust you’ve earned.

The Trust Trap

While consistently delivering value to your network is extremely important, you need to be aware of the trust trap.

Many business owners, especially service professionals who have a strong desire to serve, are very good at delivering value and building trust, but don’t make requests frequently enough.

It is essential that you make requests for sales conversations, referrals, and other ways you can be supported in your business. Simply creating amazing free content and delivering value will not grow your business. You need to ask.

If you struggle with making requests, I’d strongly recommend you read Go For No by Richard Fenton and Andrea Waltz and check out the authors’ website.

Nurturing your network and earning trust is invaluable, but your business doesn’t benefit until you leverage that trust and leverage it in to clients or other opportunities.

What strategies have you used to leverage your network? Share in the comments below.

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