At BoB there is no set structure or even necessity when it comes to BoB to BoB’s but like everything else at BoB it’s suggested you do them purely because it will benefit you and your business. Results aren’t always immediate but I’d like to think we are all here for the long haul, to get a lot of business and pass a lot of business.
Why we do them?
We do then to learn more about each other’s business and to build our business relationships. The more you know about someone’s business the more opportunities you will have to refer to them, and visa versa.
Also BoB to BoB meetings are useful for building relationships. Always keep in mind referrals are a by-product of a good business relationship, and the main feature of a good business relationship is trust. There is a recognised sequence to building trust,
1. Know you – the person knows of you and what you do.
2. Like you – this often happen during a BoB to BoB as it’s a conversation on a much more personal level than what can be achieved over breakfast.
3. Trust you – finally once someone knows you and they like you they begin to trust you.
People will only refer to people they trust so if you are doing things incorrectly in your BoB to BoBs you will be unlikely to get the referrals you want. Things to avoid are:
1. Being self-centred by only talking about your business.
2. Boring whoever you meet with something that they could do in their own time.
3. Being unaware when your actions cause others to be uncomfortable.
4. Over sharing personal aspects, ie divorce, medical issue, religious or political beliefs.
5. And in general treating someone differently to how you as a professional would like to be treated.
To help people who are new to BoB or even for long serving members who may sometimes be stuck for things to talk about in a BoB to Bob I have put together some suggestions. I have found all of these to help me to learn more about other people’s businesses. This will be put up on the BoB website for your reference if you ever need it in the future.
A final point – While it’s great that on occasion we are able to and have the confidence to do business with each other we all should remember that your BoB network is not your target market, if you do treat Bob as your target market you limit yourself to potential referrals from 24 people. Your target audience should be the people your BoB network knows. Even if everyone here only knew 10 people each, you are tapping into 240 potential referrals; in reality we probably know hundreds of people so you are tapping into 2,400 potential referrals, would you prefer 24 or 2,400?
What to Ask – Why you should ask?
- What are the major aspects of your business? This gives you a high level understanding of what they do.
- What are some of the smaller aspects of your business that you find rewarding or are looking to grow? This can give you a better understanding of the types of referrals that may be a bit out of the ordinary but will be greatly appreciated.
- Have you had any big successes recently? Very open ended question that can help you learn parts of their business they feel they do very well and gives you more information about the best type of referral for them. It also gives you a positive story you can relay to a referral, potentially turning a warm lead into a hot one.
- What work do you currently have on the go? They will give you a more detailed description of their core business and usually more personal/real examples create more solid trigger points for referrals.
- Without mentioning specifics what are some of the referrals you’ve already received that did and didn’t work for you? This can let you know without their being any negativity what does and doesn’t work for that person referral wise. It’s important to qualify referrals where possible to avoid wasting the time of all involved.
- In my business capacity how might I be able to help you? People are much more willing to help someone who is willing to help them. This question helps them to help you provide referrals.
- Where do you see your business in 5 years? You can’t help someone unless you know the direction they are heading. Again if you can help someone move in the direction they want they will return the favour.