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Referrals on Purpose With Social Media

by Joeann Fossland

Joeann FosslandArticle img 1NAR's 2010 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers tells us that 48 percent of our business comes from referrals. Most Women's Council members are pros at creating the referral business that comes from previous clients, other Women's Council members, friends or family members. 

However much they love referrals, though, they often don't have a plan and have the mistaken belief that these referrals come arbitrarily and cannot be planned or managed. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

You can and should have a strategy for your referral business. As part of your yearly business planning, it will enable you to thrive and do more "easy" business. Your plan should include maximizing your branding by creating a good business page on Facebook, building your recommendations on LinkedIn and regularly seeing and talking to the people most likely to send you referrals.

This year, don't stop here. The business climate is tough in many areas, and yet we can create our best year ever by expanding our referral opportunities with creativity through social media.

Expand your reach. Many REALTORS® partner with real-estate-related businesses. However, this is limited because your lender and home inspector know so many agents and must spread their referrals around.

Other business owners outside of real estate are interested in the same clients as you.  Many are struggling to be profitable too and would welcome someone who wants to help them grow their businesses. 

Know your ideal client.
 The agents who thrive are those who clearly know who they want to reach and how to get on the radar of those people. The more clarity you have about their needs, the easier it is to match the professionals and businesses that would bring them value. 

It's a huge mistake to try to be all things to all people. Begin by getting specific about your ideal client:

  • What is the age range of your ideal client?
  • Where do they want to live?
  • What is their price range for a home or investment property?
  • What interests do they have?
  • What else is important to them?

Here are some examples. An agent in Denver realized his clients loved to eat out. He approached 12 restaurants with the idea that they would give him a coupon for a discount ("Buy one, get one free" or "free appetizer"). Then he would share this in his monthly newsletter with a restaurant review. He also posted this on his Web site, blog and Facebook business page.

Another agent rides a Harley. In doing her business plan, she discovered 60 percent of her business for the previous year had come from the folks that she rode with on weekends. 

So she strategically planned to bring more value to these people. She contacted the Harley Davidson distributorship and talked with the owner about sending in her friends. He gave her a coupon for a 15-percent discount on any accessories. 

Further exposure for both could be accomplished by linking to each other's Web sites, engaging on each other’s blogs, liking each other’s Facebook pages and other regular engagement. 

Who would like business from your clients? Maybe a grocer, hairdresser, massage therapist, accountant or car dealership. Think about the hobbies and interests of your clients. Do they like to hike, read or cook? What business would give them value?

Create a social partnering strategy. First, identify who you want to approach. Use your ideal client profile to make a list of social partners that will bring value to your clients. 

If you'd like a resource to expand your options, download my Fabulous Fifties list with dozens of ideas. Identify at least 12 businesses or service providers that you will target this year – adding a new one each month. 

Then, contact these businesses to discuss how you'd like to help them. Connect with one business each month. Discuss their needs and your client profile, and then discover if you are a fit for a partnership. 

Having a partnership with many local businesses can be a win-win-win with $0 marketing investment when you utilize social media. You create value for your client and build business referrals for you and the partner business. The brainstorming process is really fun and can result in some creative ideas — maybe even a joint event.

When you do this, you invoke "the law of reciprocity" sited in Robert Cialdini's bookInfluence: The Psychology of Persuasion. According to Cialdini, people in our culture do not like owing others and will do whatever they can to even the scales. If 10 people bring their coupons into that restaurant and buy meals, the owner will be looking for opportunities to send you business in a way he wouldn’t have otherwise.

Do the numbers: if you add a new partner each month for this entire year, you'll have 12 advocates on the lookout for clients for you. Are you ready to thrive and have fun at the same time? Then get social this year!

Joeann Fossland, GRI, PMN, has more than 27 years of experience in real estate as an agent, marketing expert, international speaker, trainer and personal coach. Her gift is helping people be wildly productive while living lives they love. She was recognized by a Stefan Swanepeol poll as one of the "Top 25 Most Influential Women in Real Estate." You can subscribe to her free "Tuesday Tips," attend "Fossland's Forums" and free monthly tele-seminars and find out about classes delivered by e-mail and personal coaching by visiting her Web site. Her e-mail address is joeann@joeann.com. You can also connect on Facebook and Twitter.

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