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How to Cultivate A Network of Endless Referrals Featured

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How to Cultivate A Network of Endless Referrals

No question about it; you provide one of the most valuable services imaginable. However, without an ongoing and ever-increasing number of new, quality prospects, you'll eventually run out of people with whom to share the benefits. You might even end up asking yourself that most dreaded of questions in the world of sales, which is, "Who do I talk to next, now that my original list of names has run out?" That thought can be downright discouraging, can't it? Then again, it need not happen.  


Develop profitable, win/win relationships with practically every new person you meet - whether one on one or in a social setting. How? Ask questions. Specifically, "feel-good" questions. These are questions designed to put your conversation partner at ease, and begin the rapport-building process.  


So what are some of these "Feel-good" type questions?

  1. "How did you get started in the 'widget' business?" I call this the "Movie-of-the-Week" question because most people love the opportunity to "tell their story" to someone. This, in a world where most people don't care enough to want to know their story.
  2. "What do you enjoy most about what you do?" Again, you are giving them something very positive to associate with you and your conversation. You are making them feel special, important.

You've begun to establish a nice rapport with your new prospect. You are focusing on him or her, as opposed to you and your awesome product, as most salespeople do. He or she is starting to feel good about you and has enjoyed answering your first two "Feel-good" questions. Now it's time for the "One key question," and here it is:

"Pat, how can I know if someone I speaking with would be a good prospect for you?"

Here, you've continued to establish yourself as being different from all others they meet who are in business, who only seem to want to know, "How can you help me." Also, since you are asking for help in identifying their prospects, she will gladly supply you with an answer. And the fact is, nothing builds trust and credibility with a prospect than actually referring business to them whenever possible.

Your conversation has ended and you never even mentioned your products or services. Good, since your relationship with this new prospect may not be far enough along for him or her to be receptive to this. (At other times it's very advisable to bring up.) That's fine. Hopefully, you've gotten your prospect's business card. Now you are in the position to follow up correctly and systematically in order to nurture this new relationship.

Whenever meeting new people, the above questions will help you to very quickly build your prospect list with high-quality people. And, in a manner that is fun and without stress. You'll never again feel the "discomfort" in the pit of your stomach, knowing that you have to nervously and clumsily approach someone you don't want to approach, and whom you can just sense, does not want to be approached.

Know this: the typical person knows about 250 people. Thus, every time you meet one new person, and develop a relationship based on the fact that he or she now feels as though they "know you, like you and trust you" you've actually just increased your personal prospect list a potential 250 people, every single time. Do this often enough and before long, you'll cultivate a network of endless referrals.

Bob Burg is author of Endless Referrals: Network Your Everyday Contacts Into Sales and Winning Without Intimidation: How to Master the Art of Positive Persuasion, both with over 100,000 copies sold. His newest booklet is The Successs Formula. He also publishes a free weekly ezine newsletter. To sample, go to

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