Focus on better referrals

Perfect vision is 20/20, right? Although no one would characterize this year as being perfect, there have been some bright spots including, for many of us, time to focus. 

Any successful business coach will tell you to be really good at one thing and promote that as much as possible. Zero-in on that one thing and sell it, they’ll say. As a PR consultant I’ll tell you to distill the message until it can be communicated in a simple phrase. Sometimes that simple phrase is an umbrella statement for a common denominator that runs through everything you offer. An effective phrase ties it all together with a neatly tied bow. The focus then becomes a whole bouquet of flowers instead of a grower’s bunch. 

Do people know how to refer you?

Whether you offer a wide variety of services (a huge floral arrangement) or a singular skill (everything’s coming up roses), they won’t be able to effectively refer you if you are not extremely clear in your promotional effortsand in what you deliver. It’s okay to offer many items if there a clear through line.

You’ve likely heard of the practice of identifying your perfect client so your network knows who to refer to you. This is a good exercise to help you attract who you want on your docket. Before you can do this, decide what you’re offering. What is your passion? Is there one thing you LOVE doing more than anything else? Do you dread any tasks? It will be a disservice to you to attract your ideal clients who want what you hate doing. 

The Whole Enchilada

I like everything in my field! My focus changes depending on the client, but there has always been a common denominator and that is community relations. I’m a generalist in terms of industries working with everything from restaurants to government agencies. I’ve been brought in as a subject matter expert for community relations, media relations, strategic planning, message development, and been hired to handle organizations’ promotions from nose to tail. Even if I am the facilitator for a group, I am most often helping to coalesce the thoughts from disparate community stakeholders. 

Referrals come in the shape of how they met me or witnessed my expertise. I like variety and this ensures I have repeat and referral business from many different kinds of clients. 

Pivot in 2021

Focus on 2021

Even so, this year has made me focus on work that I can have more control over. Stay tuned in 2021 as I start launching some products specifically tailored to small businesses and local nonprofits who often take a DIY approach to their promotions but need some professional tools and guidance.

I recommend you review your list of skills on your LinkedIn page and make sure you are offering the services you love and nothing else. Then ask for referrals in those areas. You won’t be disappointed. 

Leslie A.M. Smith founded McCormick L.A. in 1994 offering public relations and marketing consulting to nonprofits and small businesses. She is the author of “Laws of Promotion,” a 50-page promotional guide directed specifically to small businesses and local nonprofits available now on Amazon.

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