How to win recommendations and influence your networks (big-time)

Oct 8th, 2014 | By FCT

Here’s the thing: clients are most likely to recommend a great service or a product that’s really working for them when they’re right in the middle of the experience of enjoying the new discovery.

It’s all about the psychology, as recent research into referral/recommendation networks demonstrates.

A groundbreaking 2013 Cornell study shows that recommendations occur in ‘cascades’—patterns of sharing value (‘there’s no annual fee’) that correlate with what’s being shared. In plain English: if you can spark a recommendation that recommendation will in turn be shared in ways specific to the product and its complexity. DVD and Netflix recommendations, which focus on complex stories, spread far differently—and more frequently—than simple YouTube recommendations.

That means that the more complex the transaction, the more likely people will recommend it if it works well for them. Here’s how highly successful lawyers strategize to build their networks. Bottom line? The value of a ‘teachable moment’ increases the more complex the learning. For mortgage specialists, this is pure gold: referrals are far more likely if a complex process is suddenly clear to the client. (Trust again.)

What does this mean when you have quarterly numbers to hit? It means that long-term investment in helping clients navigate what to them is a complex product or process is a near-invaluable network-building tool. And the impact of a well-timed ‘teachable moment’ is amplified if you and your client are in mid-process, because that’s when they’re most likely to want to share their experience. Makes sense: they’re living it now—best time to share it is now.

Networks yield deals because networks are where referrals—present and future—live. Does that mean scattershot postings to Twitter or Facebook will make your deal stats explode? No, because that’s not how human beings share value. Entrepreneurs understand this; growing a business from scratch demands ace networking skills. We share value when risk is low and trust is high; in fact, there’s a paradox in play—human networks grow most effectively through weak, not strong connections, as anyone who’s found a job through a friend of friend will attest: it’s not the strong connections that are most profitable.

It’s the weak connections that spring other networks open. How’s that work? You already know: taxi drivers, hairdressers and clergy are classic weak connectors; they share stories all the time about other people’s lives.

Get the picture? Teachable moment + Recommendation = Network referral gold.

Categories: EXPERT/ease
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