I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy of the ripple effect in building your business. Using the ripple effect is a simple way to find new clients.
You cast a pebble into a lake and it creates a ripple of small waves moving out from where the tiny stone contacted the water.
Each pebble represents a contact you make. The ripples and resulting waves create energy from the initial connection and spread on their own.
The goal of this analogy is you reach out to someone and find a way to share your story with them. You hope they will toss their pebble by sharing your story with someone else.
I’ve used the pebble analogy often with my clients especially when they say, “I have no idea where to start finding new clients.”
You work to build your existing circles of contacts, starting with your most intimate connections (friends, family, favorite clients) and moving out purposely to other networks. Think Six Degrees of Separation. You begin with the first degree and continue to move further out on the circles from 1st degree to the sixth.
However, recently I was visiting some friends who have a home on a lake. Sitting on the dock writing, I was suddenly taken away from my journal when the dock started rocking. Not one boat had passed since I went down to the lake. I realized that a catamaran must have been on the other side of the lake and created a current from there. This lake is a mile or two wide. An island blocks the view across the lake, so the waves that were coming in strongly enough to cause the dock to rock were enough to pass the island and come to my side.
In the perfect world, you would have someone in your connections who starts a ripple for you, on the other side of the lake which in turn will rock the docks of those who need your services. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Toss 1 Pebble First
I want to caution you though. If you cast your pebbles randomly, the ripples are spreading all over the place. A good thing? Typically, one would think, more pebbles more results.
However, I’m going to stop you right there.
If you’re a small business, a solo-entrepreneur, how many pebbles can you personally contact at any given moment?
Starting with many different tasks at once will cause a seemingly good system to fall apart. Only begin making connections with the number of people you can keep track of at once. Additionally, consider the same rule in how many places online you are trying to engage — groups on Facebook, connections on LinkedIn, boards in Pinterest, connections in Instagram and Twitter.
Create the System You Can Manage to Find New Clients
Make it a good one. Choose where you want to put 100% of your energy into building your connections. Start here and when it is flowing well, you can expand how far out you toss your pebbles.
Draw a Circle on A Sheet of Paper
In the center of your circle, place a large dot and label it “Me.”
Next, start adding people to this circle who are your most intimate connections. Your family, friends, close colleagues, favorite clients. Who are the people you would call if you had a super exciting announcement? Whom would you contact to bounce a business idea? Who would you call first for some advice? List all of these people in the circle you have drawn.
If your business is based entirely online, look at your contacts in the same way. The intimate connections I spoke of in the previous paragraph are in my social circles and business connections.
Add people to your circle from both your local and online connections. Go through your contacts and friends lists in all sources and write down those 1st-degree people.
To start the Ripple Process, choose one. Perhaps it’s a current or past client who has quality connections with your target market. Maybe it is your best business cheerleader.
Toss the pebble their way and make the connection meaningful. Arrange to meet with them over coffee or lunch – even surprise them by taking something to their office when you pop in to have a chat. (or if need be, make an appointment)
Be sure they understand your story and how you or your product can help people they know.
Just Tossing a Pebble is Not Enough
Be sure to follow up. Send them a thank you note. Depending on the conversation you had, put a reminder in your calendar to check in with them in a couple of weeks. Find a way to send them a referral, a great article they would appreciate or anything that might be a pebble in their lake.
It’s not all about you. Those ripples need to move from their direction too.
Do this for your top 20 connections. Twenty seems to be a number that one person can handle and the number that will make a difference in your business. Keep track of your conversations and follow-through. Here is a sample Google Sheet that you can download and save to your files to track your contact process.
Join in the Conversation
What are some of the methods you have used to find new clients within your circles?