Always ask for referrals. I can´t stress this enough. When the economy took a nose dive recently those of us who make a living in sales and marketing had to work even harder to generate business. Gone were the days of sitting on one´s laurels expecting the phone to ring. We had to be creative. We had to be inventive. We had to ask our client´s and business associates for referrals. Please take note that I am not a big fan of building a business on referrals only. I think it´s a huge mistake to think that you don´t need to market your services to new prospects on a regular on-going basis. Years ago, I had a client who was arrogant enough to tell me that he really didn´t need my services (this was before he hired me) because he had enough business coming in from word of mouth. And he was right at that point he didn´t need my services. The problem was that he wasn´t thinking ahead. Referrals have a nasty habit of drying up when you least expect it. The economy changes, business slows down and suddenly no one is returning your calls. And he found this out the hard way. Suddenly he was scrambling to bring in new business from anywhere he could. (The time to hire a telemarketer is not when you need one but rather when you don´t.) And the time to ask for referrals is when you don´t need them not when you do. Have you ever heard the saying that "the time to look for work is when you don´t need it"? This way you always have business coming in and never have to rely on referrals alone. I think it´s a good idea to think of the small business community as just that, a community. In a real proactive, productive community, everyone takes care of everyone else as well as themselves. If you know of a business associate who would benefit from making contact with another colleague, it benefits everyone to network these two entities.
next column-Part Two