Ever find yourself wondering how to create raving fans, repeat clients, and referrals for your business? A near-groupie brush with The Beach Boys last week made me want to share 11 ways to “surf” into building your own thriving Tribe and business pipeline.
Let’s get started!
Why did I buy these tickets? Why won’t anyone buy them? They’re in the third-row center! I don’t want to drive four hours roundtrip!
And that’s how it went; mumbling and rambling off and on last week until Saturday afternoon about our Beach Boys tickets.
Don’t get me wrong, two years ago they put on the best concert we agreed we’d ever seen. That’s why I bought these tickets. Plus, needing handicap accessible, you’re always back in the rafters and never see the third row.
I bought like all our customers do – full of hope and promise.
It was outdoors! I had great seats! We’d go explore St. Augustine!
But as the date neared that good old buyer’s remorse set in.
It’s a 4-hour round trip. I didn’t know it would be 88 degrees in February. My foot is bothering me so I can’t walk around all day. What was I thinking? Blah blah blah.
Plus, they’d added a show five minutes from our house and now I felt lame. People even asked me, “Why didn’t you buy tickets in Melbourne?” Aargh.
I tried to sell them. I wasn’t willing to give them away because I knew they were great seats and I’d ultimately have a good time.
At 3 PM I pulled my tickets offline, stuck a flower in my hair and forced a positive attitude into my head, and we set off.
Center aisle and third row, but the curvature made them even with the front row!!
Best view ever!
Did I mention these seats were accessible? Something I need but never get upfront!
We were like giddy kids and have dorky pics as proof.
Before the show I would say I liked The Beach Boys’ surf music.
But halfway through, I LOVED THE BEACH BOYS!
I loved THEM.
Until then I had never understood that craziness of following a band around (or the other things we’ve heard groupies do).
(Uh no, I was still not going to be that kind of groupie!!)
So, what made me go from liking their music and the nostalgia of my childhood to sitting up straighter in my seat, taking 185 pics, and searching for upcoming shows on the way home?
They connected with their audience.
They connected with ME.
Actually it just made it stronger.
Way back in my drafty handicap seats two years before, they’d managed to make me a repeat buyer.
I don’t see every show and once I’ve seen a band I just like, I don’t go out of my way to see them again.
But the Beach Boys stuck and here’s why:
Repeat business and referrals often come down to how we make people feel.
I could tell you all about my two concerts, but it’s not really important.
What can feel like a magic spell is nothing more than connecting.
If you want to create raving fans, repeat business, and referrals then you will recognize that the magic is simply the follow through of simple, repeatable actions.
Too busy is the enemy!
We can thrive when we slow down and make customers and followers feel seen and heard.
The Zulu people of South Africa have a greeting that is referred to as an invocation spoken in two parts. One part is Sikhona, which means “I am here to be seen”; and the other part is Sawubona, which means “I see you.”
We did an activity around this at CDI’s last Entrepreneurial Success Summit in Orlando, FL
People paired up and some held hands while looking deeply into each other’s eyes.
It was intense.
People were crying because they were being seen.
We all want to be seen.
In Hawaiian it is the honi ihu, or the touching of noses. This traditional method of greeting allows both people to exchange breath, which is the supremely important life force in Hawaiian understanding.
Notice there is the pause to experience, to hold.
You don’t need to start touching noses or holding hands – especially in our virtual business, post-COVID world!
Instead, we can take micro-actions in our businesses that cost us nothing but will mean everything to someone else.
As Leo Buscaglia said:
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.
The reward of connecting and being present for someone is incredibly powerful.
You can show up as someone’s superhero. (Nod to the CDI Career Superhero logo, created because resume writers and career coaches know what it’s like to have a job seeker place the weight of their marriage, their last $1K, or their home in our hands).
Before CDI, I built a 6-figure career business in the mid-90s. Within two years 55% of my new clients were referrals. People still reach out to me weekly (and I refer them to members).
But the point is, neither you, me or the Beach Boys require magic to get people to want to refer or return to do business with us.
Ready to Create Some Repeat Clients & Referrals?
Here are some simple steps to take; some you likely already do and others that will make you go, “How did I get too busy to forget?”
Don’t overthink it; just get started!
Whenever you’re with someone, suspend everything else. Be there for them.
If you are in Zoom or F2F, make eye contact. Make time for them.
With clients, charge for your time so you can generously give your time. No one should starve for their craft!
Whether you are the person who comfortably writes, “Hello beautiful” at the start of every email as an artist I know does or The Beach Boy(s) who make a point of looking and pointing at their audience members to directly connect, a simple action can make someone feel deeply seen and appreciated.
Thank you is not implicit. It must be spoken and shown.
When you receive a referral don’t grade its worth – be thankful.
When a client trusts you with their money – be thankful.
But don’t just think it; show it.
An old school mailed card stands out.
A tag on social media that they follow (and will be comfortable with) stands out.
A follow up, stands out.
There is nothing quite like the humble words, “I thank you” to make someone feel appreciated.
While similar to thanks, gratitude allows you to show up with energy and enthusiasm, even when you aren’t fully feeling it.
Center yourself by doing gratitude work each morning – what are you grateful for? – why are you grateful for it? – how does it make you feel? And then carry it into your day to show gratitude for others.
One of my favorite companies to do business with starts off each email with:
First, THANK YOU 🙏 . We appreciate you and your support.” Doesn’t matter what you are asking or complaining about, they show their gratitude first. How would people react if your email responses started that way?
Gratitude helps reframe obstacles and challenges into opportunities to lean into.
Reach Out, Follow Up.
I remember being part of a think tank of $100K resume writers and career coaches 25 or so years ago. We were each surprised and humbled to learn that none of us were following up with clients.
We’d be of deepest service, asking clients to let us know when they succeeded or if they needed us, and then we’d be off to the next client.
Collectively this was not from arrogance or being too busy; it was about fear. The belief was that no news was good news and why poke the hornet nest.
I’m not suggesting you have time to call upon every one of your clients, especially if you are a solopreneur.
But I am stressing how important regular touch points are to stay top-of-mind with prospects and clients. When they think of your service you and your contact information should be top of mind.
People live in overwhelm and your gift can be that of relevance.
Sell your clients on the value of being added to your mailing list for helpful tips, support, and the ability to always find you.
Have an initial free offer on your website and pinned to your social media that tells prospects they will be added to a list. Then use it regularly (autoresponder) to share stories, inspiration, strategies, and the occasional offer.
Monitor your social media to respond to DMs and comments.
Little things compound.
Don’t only encourage your clients to share their wins with you but celebrate them with them.
Be present to let them know how proud and excited you are for them.
Ask for their story.
Send them a congratulations card.
Ask if you can share their win on social media and tag them.
Look for little ways to surprise and delight!
I know you can see the clock ticking but —
You can automate the sending of cards.
You can use apps to send out birthday or new job anniversary emails.
Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People:
Talk to someone about themselves and they’ll listen for hours.
The biggest mistake is assuming if someone loved you (and your service) that they’ll know to write a testimonial or send referrals, or even come back to you for more.
The most direct and efficient route is to ask.
“I want you to be able to track your small wins along the way and to have data for us to celebrate your big win when you land the job. So please use this tracking form of resumes sent out, comments received, etc.”
“I’ve had clients ask me before if I actually accept referrals so I want to be sure to let you know that I love them and will take great care of them. They are the lifeblood of my business.. There’ll be a special perk in your next update (service) for those who sign up with me as well.”
Don’t forget those thank you follow ups!
Check Your Energy.
You can be having the worst day but it doesn’t have to impact your interactions.
One of the finest compliments I received was from my sister who accompanied me to a speaking engagement in Orlando. I was in terrible physical pain and my sister had to drive me there as a result. I had been crying almost to the point of arrival. But when I entered the room, she was impressed to see that those 30+ university career center staff never had a clue.
I took it for granted until about a year later she wrote a poem about it.
How we show up and the energy that we bring has nothing to do with what’s going on in our lives.
It’s a choice.
Before our many CDI live events, I:
- Stop multitasking, breathing shallowly, and I get present with myself.
- Listen to Brotha James on Spotify, which is my fav uplifting music.
So take the time to put your best self forward whenever and wherever you are showing up!
A smile will turn your face and your voice into something magical.
To be honest, when I started my first business helping job seekers I was early 20s and had only worked mom-n-pop shops.
Luckily in the first month, I was on the phone talking to a woman in my ‘professional’ voice.
Professional voice = serious face. (It was the 90s, people.).
The call didn’t go well but I say luckily because her abruptly saying, “I don’t get the sense that you really want to help me” was like doing an ice bucket challenge!
I lost that sale and I didn’t know why.
The truth was I really did want to help her, and I knew I was doing something wrong.
I read everything I could to foster positive customer encounters, and the biggest takeaway was that it all starts with the smile.
Literally how you sound and come across lives and dies with a smile.
Louis Armstrong said:
When You’re Smiling (The Whole World Smiles With You).
BellSouth Yellow Pages Advertising gave me a little desktop mirror in one of their sales classes. Their message was to remember to smile when you talked to people as it would positively influence how you sounded.
The now sadly defunct Dean Curtis & Associates did a study with job seekers performing cold calls from cubicles. Some cubicles had mirrors, and some didn’t. The ones with mirrors had tremendous success booking meetings over those without mirrors.
So get a mirror for your desk if this is an area that you could improve!
Be Your Polarizing Self.
In a sea of black suits, don’t be afraid to show up as your amazing, unique self.
If black jackets are your thing or mandatory to your industry, sport them.
But if not, you might have to shift messaging in your business, but you will never rise faster than when you show up cloaked in the brilliance of YOU.
That could be cowboy boots, a flower in your hair, or all the colors of the rainbow.
It could be tattoos or track suits.
It could be like, Audrey Prenzel, who prior to retirement never missed a daily morning post that would mix humor, business/client updates, two adorable and chunky pugs, and personal adventures. Today she’s still booking career industry training gigs when posting to IG and FB about vintage glassware. Who knew?
Her advice is always to:
You just have to do it. Show up. Be visible. Be everywhere. Don’t be afraid to ask.
In short, just be the most you that you can be!
Don’t hide your light under a bucket.
Don’t try to conform to someone else’s ideal unless it’s truly what you want to become.
Your quirkiness will draw your Tribe to you.
It will also repel bad fit prospects, which is a win-win.
Being authentic provides no faster way to grow your brand and attract ideal clients while filtering out ones you don’t want.
Not everyone is ever going to love you no matter what you do.
And that is so very OK.
You just have to appeal to your ideal client.
I love this line from the article, It’s more important to be polarizing than neutralizing regarding the truth about being divisive at work:
Polarizing people, like polarizing ideas, are those who disrupt the status quo. They’re inherently divisive, often loved and hated in equal measure. Socially, being polarizing can act as an invaluable filter—distancing you from people you wouldn’t get along with anyway, and bringing you closer to those who make you happy.
So be that fabulous you!
Amongst all the giving, remember that you can love what you do and the people you serve, but setting boundaries is healthy.
I celebrate ‘Shut Down Complete’, a Heroic daily practice, which marks a time each day and weekend that I do not look at emails around work.
It’s easy for me to do because I keep a separate phone for business and personal use.
If you don’t give out your personal cellphone number, you can’t feel guilt or stress over an unwanted text at dinner time or Saturday night, or any other time you need to decompress and have you time.
If you don’t answer emails on Sunday, people won’t expect to reach you on Sunday.
You might need to write them some Sundays, but leave them in draft until Monday morning!
Remember, all work and no play will eventually burn you out or make you sick, which servers no one.
A clear defining line serves everyone.
What Other Ways Are You Using to Create Repeat Clients & Referrals?
I’d love to hear what else you are doing. Drop a comment below and let me know!
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