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A satisfied customer is the best possible way to network

Think about all your relationships past and present. How many of them started because you were introduced to someone through a mutual acquaintance who vouched for you? Most of our relationships, and even most marriages, come about from introductions, not random meetings at bars or in Target while you’re shopping.

Let’s look at this from a business standpoint.

Imagine you’re at a networking reception and you see your dream prospect off in the distance. This person could help your business like no other. The potential for this account is so huge that if you made the sale to this one person, that sale alone would allow you to hit your quarterly goal. So, you decide to walk over and give it a shot. Once you have the attention of Mr. CEO, you introduce yourself, and try to strike up a conversation. Mr. CEO, of course, gets pitched all the time and more or less blows you off. Why shouldn’t he? He doesn’t know you. For all he knows, you could be a rat or a fed.

Now let’s take that same scenario with one small change.

You’re at the same networking event and you see Mr. CEO in the distance. You walk over to introduce yourself only to find Mr. CEO having a friendly conversation with your best friend. It turns out they are working together on a construction project for the state. When you walk up, your best friend introduces you to Mr. CEO and tells Mr. CEO what a wonderful guy you are, how great your business is, and suggests that you and Mr. CEO chat because your product could really help Mr. CEO, his business and Mr. CEO’s associates. Since your friend has just vouched for you, Mr. CEO agrees to a lunch meeting with you at his favorite Italian restaurant tomorrow.

That is the power of having someone vouch for you. That is the power of relationships. Both of these scenarios play out every day, both in social settings and in the business world.

How do you get people to vouch for you? The simple answer is relationships.

We live in a world that is ruled by relationships. When you talk about yourself, everyone expects you to only say good things about you, your products and your service, so what you say about yourself has little value. On the other side of that coin, when others vouch for you, it is infinitely more trustworthy. With the mob, they always want to know the person who is doing the vouching, but in society today, people will take a total stranger’s word from an online review site and trust it more than they trust what you say about yourself.

Creating relationships with your existing clients is not easy, but it is critical. You have to spend time and resources on your proven buyers. These proven buyers are the folks putting food on your table, they are the likeliest to buy more from you and they’re the most likely to vouch for you, your products and services.

A few of my favorite ways to build relationships with existing customers are with customer appreciation events, unexpected gifts, and a monthly newsletter.

Once you have established a system to build relationships with your existing customers, you want to kick the vouching into high gear. Focus on your customer experience. Here is a fun fact: Did you know only 30 percent of consumers surveyed say that price is their number one decision-making factor when considering a purchase? The other 70 percent of consumers feel that their experience, customer service and quality outweigh price as the primary factors in choosing a product or service. You have to ask yourself, “How can we wow our customers, and not just on the first purchase, but every time we interact with them?”

Do you remember a time when being a “good” provider of services or having a “good” product was enough to get people to vouch for a business? Unfortunately, after years of bad experiences, good or average just doesn’t cut it anymore. At the end of the day, your client is scared of vouching for fear of the repercussions that come with giving out a bad referral. The last thing your customer wants is to listen to the in-laws complain at every family event for the next seven years about the person they vouched for. It is just safer to say nothing, but everything changes when you create a relationship with your customer by giving them a WOW experience that they want to tell the world about.