How to Get All the Clients You Need From People You Already Know

9 minute read

If you’re a little intimidated by the term “networking,” I have good news for you.

Because what I’m about to share isn’t about traditional-style networking.

There’s no cold-calling… no handing out business cards to people at gatherings… no sending letters to complete strangers.

You see, the other day I read a true story about two friends, Aly and Ilana.

Ilana, who was going to L.A. to look for a job, confided in Aly that she was feeling lost, alone, and more than a little nervous. She said she didn’t know anyone and didn’t have any connections.

Aly’s response:  “No problem… Power of Who!”

What Aly meant was that she knew “WHO” could help Ilana.

The next day, Ilana sat down and explained her goals and dreams to Bob, the “Who” Aly referred her to. Bob knew people in L.A. and in three days’ time was able to set up five interviews for Ilana within her field of dreams. In addition, Bob’s friends were able to get Ilana eight more interviews the week she was in L.A.

Ilana got five job offers as a result of her interviews. Plus, two companies bid on her right up until she chose the job she wanted.

As I read this story in Bob Beaudine’s book, The Power of Who, I immediately recognized I had personally experienced the “Power of Who” myself.

More importantly, it made me realize I was neglecting the very network of people who could help me grow my copywriting business the most…

The people I already knew.

I thought about how I’ve generated most of my business, and I realized 90% of my paying jobs have been a result of referrals from friends or friends of friends… yet, I was focusing 90% of my networking efforts on reaching out to complete strangers.

In reading The Power of Who, it suddenly made sense why most of my work would come from referrals…

According to Bob Beaudine, president and CEO of Eastman & Beaudine, the top sports/entertainment executive search firm, 80 percent of jobs are never advertised, because personal references from friends or friends of friends make the biggest impact on who gets the job.

This gave new meaning to Roman playwright Titus Maccius Plautus’ quote, “Your wealth is where your friends are.”

I thought back to when I started copywriting. I had no samples and no website… yet I landed a $60,000 project based on the recommendation of a friend who knew nothing about copywriting. He just knew of my work ethic and character. And he knew what I was looking for, because I had reached out to him with specifics about my freelance copywriting search. So, when the opportunity arose, he referred me.

Is it possible someone you already know, who likes you, can actually help you, too?

Beaudine resoundingly says, YES! And I would have to agree.

Because the truth is… everyone has what Beaudine calls a “Who” network of friends. These are the people you’ve built up relationships with over many years who care about you, share your values… and, if asked, would help you. They want you to achieve your goals.

In fact, the foundation of an organized, structured, and successful networking system is people you already know.

With a little effort, you’ll soon discover people from all walks of life are willing to help you – provided they can.

Today, I’m going to share with you Beaudine’s strategy along with a simple system that will help you create a never-ending network of referrals. This system will also make it easy for people to help you and requires very little of their time.

You already know everyone you need to know

Beaudine says, “You already know everyone you need to know,” and offers a plan based on a time-tested approach his firm has used with repeated success for over 40 years.

He says, “The real problem of finding your dream or achieving that goal isn’t about who you don’t know, but whom you’ve neglected.”

You see, most people send emails to people they don’t know and network outside what Beaudine calls your “Who friends” because they think success will be found “out there somewhere.”

He says this is a false notion, because strangers and acquaintances don’t care about your goals unless they perceive a benefit for themselves.

That’s not to say strangers won’t treat you with courtesy and kindness. They usually will. But…

Your friends truly care about your goals and dreams and want to help you achieve them.

If you feel a bit uncomfortable asking for help from your friends, know that’s pretty normal. Often, we feel embarrassed or let pride get in our way. But think if the situation were reversed. Wouldn’t you want to help them?

Of course, I’m not talking about calling up a friend and saying something like, “I’m looking for some copywriting clients – do you know anyone who needs copy for a website or brochure?”

Often, requests like this, where you jump right to the “job” part, result in nothing more than your friend assuring you they’ll get back to you if something comes to mind.

Instead, Beaudine proposes something he calls…

The “100/40 Strategy”

The “100/40 Strategy” has been described as “where ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ meets your Dream Search.” It’s a philosophy that works in every area of your life… and it’s such a solid strategy that, if you use it, Beaudine says, “it’s predictable” and “a successful outcome is a foregone conclusion.”

Beaudine breaks it down like this:

“The first set of numbers (1-100) is about relationships. The second set (1-40) is about whatever it is you’re after.” He says not to get hung up on the numbers… meaning, if you don’t have 100 on your “Who” list or 40 on your “What” list, that’s okay. It will be different for every person.

Step 1:  Make a list of your “Who.”

In the first step, come up with 1 to 100 people you know. Think about the people in your life and also think back on when people have helped you before. You might identify an advocate or an ally you didn’t recognize before.

The big source of names will come from three areas:

  • Your family
  • Social contacts, such as neighbors, clubs, fraternities, service organizations, sports activities, church, and school
  • Business contacts, such as co-workers, superiors, suppliers, customers/clients, as well as your doctors, attorney, accountant, dentist, and other service professionals you use

Beaudine identifies six “spheres” which are:

  1. The Inner Circle: These are your closest friends and your greatest influence. These are people you have “a heart connection” with. Beaudine calls this the “12-3-1”… because he says you’ll have around 12 in this group, with three you have a deeper level of communication with, and one who is your best friend.
  2. Who Friends: This group is your “Inner Circle” expanded. It’s just that the time and opportunity to see them keeps them from being a part of your inner circle.
  3. Allies: These are people you associate with, connect with, or touch through your Inner Circle or your “Who” friends. Beaudine says from time to time your “Who” friends and Inner Circle open up their world and invite you in, giving you access to allies in times of need.
  4. Advocates: Beaudine identifies this group as “people you don’t really know who speak or write in support or defense of you.” They open doors for you with a recommendation or reference. Beaudine tells a story about how someone who saw him speak recommended him. This is an advocate. The guy didn’t know Beaudine, but because Bob made a good impression, this advocate recommended him for a job. He says people are watching you, and it’s “the personal impression you make that people remember.”
  5. Acquaintances: These relationships are less intimate than friendships. Beaudine says, “One of the biggest mistakes people make is creating the illusion of friendship with people who are really merely acquaintances.” Similarly, he tells a story to illustrate how you may have true friends among your acquaintances and not recognize them as friends. How can you tell the difference? Beaudine says, “Real friends are as different from acquaintances as diamonds are different from crystals. If you’re not discerning, you will look but not see.” He says to look around the acquaintances in your life and see if perhaps you’ve been overlooking key relationships, saying, “The really scary thought is that you could be standing in the midst of your own diamond stream and not see it.”
  6. Fans: Beaudine says fans, “Know of you, have encountered you professionally or socially, have read something about you, or have seen you perform publicly,” but are “one degree removed.”

Step 2:  Make a list of “What” you want your “Who” to help you with.

This step consists of two parts.

First, you want to identify specifically what you want to do and accomplish. Beaudine says this list will serve as “an inventory tool, a simple to-do list that will act as a daily reminder for whatever it is you want to reach, achieve, accomplish or fulfill.”

Next, you will take each item from your list and do some research. This is where the 1 to 40 part of the strategy comes in. The key is to identify whom you need to talk to or other specifics, because “people will be more willing to assist you if they know you’ve done your research.” Beaudine also says, “When pursuing dreams and goals, it’s all about preparation, preparation, preparation.”

For example, say you want to reach copywriting clients who work in the fitness industry, have a website, and do email marketing.

You would do research to find companies that fit your “ideal” client. Make a list of 1 to 40 organizations and people you would like to know that fit that description.

Directories, associations, and websites are examples of resources you can use to find this information.

Remember, be exact about what you want. Beaudine says dream seekers too often never decide what they want and, as a result, settle for whatever comes along because it’s convenient.

To avoid settling, Beaudine says to do the research and get specific about what you’re looking for.

As George Bernard Shaw wrote, “Take care to get what you like or you will be forced to like what you get.”

Step 3:  Contact your “Who” to ask for help.

It’s important not to prejudge the importance or unimportance of someone you know or someone you’re referred to when making contact. You never know who can help.

Beaudine says, “Most people never get what they want for three simple reasons”:

  1. “They don’t ask for it.”
  2. “When they do ask, they ask the wrong people.”
  3. “When they do ask for help, they ask too vaguely.”

While Beaudine doesn’t give suggestions on how to reach out to your connections, based on my experience, here are my recommendations.

For your closer, inner-circle friends, get together with them face-to-face or by phone. Let them know you’d like to ask for their help with something and whether they could spare some time to talk to you. Bring your list of 40 with you and explain what it is you want. Show them your list and ask if they might have any contacts that could give you an introduction to someone on your list.

For people who are more removed than your inner circle, send a short, one-page letter outlining what it is you need help with.

By sending a letter first, you give your contact a chance to think about whom he or she might know without putting them on the spot, which, in my experience, gets much better results than a phone call out of the blue.

Begin your letter by giving a brief description of what you do and why you need their assistance, followed by the line, “I am writing to ask for your assistance in my search.”

In the next paragraph, say something like, “Here is where I need your help. Unlocking the door to a new client starts by identifying the right companies and then presenting yourself. What I need are introductions to people at the companies I’ve identified or at companies similar to them, where I can help increase their results.”

In the third paragraph, give a brief, one-sentence overview of how you can help these companies, followed by bullet points outlining where you’ve been particularly successful. For example, you might list increasing web sales, improving search engine rankings, etc.

Close your letter by telling them you’ve enclosed a list of 40 organizations and people you’re trying to connect with. Ask them to give it some thought and to jot down any ideas of someone they might know who could help. Tell them their input is very important to you and that you could really use their help with your search efforts. Thank them for their anticipated assistance, and tell them you’ll call in a few days.

Include your list of organizations you’ve researched and any contact names you would like to be introduced to.

Step 4:  Follow up.

Call your contact within a few days – just as you said you would in your letter. Ask them if they had a chance to look over your letter and your list of companies. Then wait to see what they say.

Beaudine says, “Even if a particular ‘Who’ friend can’t offer you a single name, listen clearly to what they have to say.” He says, “The answer to your dreams and goals could be hidden in one of these conversations.”

Don’t be discouraged either. If you have 100 people on your “Who” list and 40 names on your “What” list, that’s 4,000 possibilities. It only takes one connection. Plus, if someone doesn’t know someone on your list, they may know someone at a similar type of company.

Step 5:  Make the Connection.

In many cases, your “Who” friends will make calls for you to set up the introduction. However, in other cases, especially as you get further out from your inner circle, you’ll start to collect names of people instead.

In these cases, again, a letter will give you the best chance for success, because it gives busy people an opportunity to think about whom they might know.

Start your letter with the name of the person who is giving you the introduction. For example, you might say, “Cindy Cyr suggested I contact you, thinking you would be an excellent source of some valuable information.”

Then you’ll follow a similar format as the letter outlined in Step 4 above. There will be two main differences with this letter…

First, you’ll want to include a paragraph that says something like this:  “I ask that you give some thought to friends in similar or related fields. In some cases, they’ll know someone who may be looking for expertise like mine. Eighty percent of jobs are never advertised – they’re found through connections.”

Second, acknowledge they’re busy in your closing. Say something like, “Mr. Contact, I realize you’re busy. I’ll call you in a few days and would really appreciate it if we could talk for a few minutes. ”

Beaudine’s father once said, “Sales is always about making friends first because your friends will do business with you.”

By following the five steps above, investing in your friendships, and asking specifically for what you want, you’ll experience a transformational impact on your business.

Take the initiative to take extra care and cultivate the people on your “Who” list by getting re-involved in their lives. Invite them to lunch, send them a note, or give them a call.

Your friends and their friends can help you land clients faster. Often, all you need to do is ask for their help.