By Ivan R. Misner, Ph.D. & Vince Vigneri
First, let me describe how I defined the concept when I introduced it in The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret:
A Contact Sphere is a group of business professionals who have a symbiotic relationship. They are in compatible, non-competitive professions. For example, a lawyer, CPA, financial planner, and a banker. If you put those four people in a room for an hour they are going to do business together. Each of them are working with clients that have similar needs but require differing services. Hence, they are working that symbiotic relationship.
My favorite example of a Contact Sphere is the caterer, florist, photographer, and travel agent. I call this the "wedding mafia"! If one gets a referral to a wedding - they all get a referral to the wedding. These professions, more than most, have truly learned how to work their Contact Sphere.
Examples of Contact Spheres
Here are some other examples of Contact Spheres:
- Business Services
- printers, graphic artists, specialty advertising, marketing consultants.
- Real Estate Services
- residential and commercial agents, escrow companies, title companies, mortgage brokers.
- painters, carpenters, plumbers, landscapers, electricians, interior designers.
- Health Care
- chiropractors, physical therapists, acupuncturists, nutritionists.
Let’s take a computer sales and service company as an example. That Contact Sphere can include: sales reps for telecommunications (hardware) firms and photocopier companies. Also, contractors who specialize in installing wiring may fit within this Contact Sphere to assist in wiring installations. Also, don't forget the computer trainers who are working with people on a daily bases with their computers and even business coaches and accountants who may have clients that need to improve their company's
Getting the Most From Your Contact Sphere
To get the most out of your Contact Sphere:
- Identify as many professions as possible that fit within your own company’s Contact Sphere. Take a look at what professions your industry tends to work with to get “repetitive” and “reciprocal” referrals. Create a list of these professions.
- Identify specific individuals who could fit into your Contact Sphere by going to various networking groups, consulting your business card file, and database.
- Invite these people to participate in networking groups with you so you can formalize your relationship and have a way to stay in regular contact. Maintaining the relationship is key. A good way to do that is to participate in groups that put you together on a regular basis.
- Evaluate the professionals in your Contact Sphere that you are presently referring. If they are not reciprocating, you may have the wrong profession or, the wrong person. Fill the spot with someone that is willing to reciprocate.
Contact Spheres Are a Start
While effectively developing solid Contact Spheres will greatly increase your business, you must remember that it alone, is not enough. Because Contact Spheres consist of small groups, you are not likely to gain exposure to a large number of individuals. Hence, work on developing your overall network of contacts at the same time you are developing your Contact Sphere.
Good luck. Contact Spheres are a great way to START building your professional network.