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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Commercial Edition   |   June 2007

Network Your Network

Creative approaches to gaining referrals can create new opportunities for commercial brokers

Networking or referral selling is not a new concept. In fact, mortgage brokers have made it an art form.

That said, network selling is still selling. In fact, at a minimum, it can require “double selling.” First, you must sell yourself and your company to a potential referral source. Then you must sell them on the value of introducing you to someone they know. Thus, a referral is not a guaranteed sale. It’s the opportunity to do business with someone.

For commercial mortgage brokers in a highly fragmented market, creative marketing through networking often is imperative. And it helps to know where to start.

Commercial lending opens itself to more potential referral sources than just real estate agents and accountants. Businesspeople such as financial planners, equipment lessors, small banks, commercial insurance agents, business brokers and many others have access to commercial customers and can provide excellent leads. In addition, don’t forget one of most-proven referral vehicles — a networking club. This kind of group often holds breakfast or lunch meetings for the sole purpose of exchanging referrals.

Ultimately, though, networking should include a larger universe of people. These might include family, friends, neighbors or people you meet at the gym or at your son’s baseball game. It could include members of professional associations or of the chamber of commerce. It could include anyone with whom you have some sort of relationship. You never know who might know someone who needs your services. All of us can expand and inflate our networking capability way beyond that of our contact base.

One additional option is networking your network. Too often, we only look at our sphere of contacts. Look at the next level.

While you are growing your network, consider current clients as well as prospects for referrals. Ask accountants or financial planners to refer their associates.

To accomplish this, it helps to consider a few tips. Ivan Misner, a published author on network-marketing concepts, has written that professionals should consider the following ideas when soliciting leads from referral sources:

  • Explain your ideal referral: Describe your company’s perfect commercial borrower to your network. This will help your contacts recognize that person.

  • Share customer profiles and examples of current customers. This is another great way to teach your network what you are looking for in new customers. When possible, introduce your network members to existing customers. This is especially effective during networking meetings and luncheons.

  • Break your product down to the details. Ensure your contacts know the specific services you provide. This can give them a better grasp of what you do than if you describe yourself only as a “full-service broker.”

  • Ask specifically for the referral you want. Be specific about the characteristics you seek in referrals. Too often, we only define a prospect as “anyone who needs a commercial loan.”

Finally, it might help to remember a story. A friend of mine met the owner of an elevator-installation and repair company. When my friend let the owner know he did commercial mortgages, the owner noted that he serviced many commercial buildings needing significant repairs — or even new elevators — to the cost of $250,000 to $400,000 per building.

It should come as no surprise that my friend has already written three commercial loans referred from this gentleman.

Being the consummate networker, my friend even convinced the owner to refer a few of his competitors. Now that’s creative marketing.


 


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