Your community can be a rich source of new leads — if you know which individuals and groups to target. Here are some examples of using networking to get your name into the right hands.

Exchange Leads With Salespeople from Other Trades

Often, people in other trades find themselves in a position to make recommendations. Homeowners often think that a plumber or roofer knows who the good air conditioning companies are, and vice versa.

Talk to people in other trades and see if they’ll agree to exchange leads with you. Remember, the lead flow must be two ways. Make sure you make an effort to steer a little business their way. Even if no leads flow in either direction, call the other salespeople from time to time to ensure you remain top-of-the-mind when the right opportunity arrives.

Work the Real Estate Agents

Few people are as well connected in a community as real estate agents. New homeowners often trust their real estate agent to know who to recommend for just about any service. For relocations, the agent may be one of the first people they befriend in the community. Work the real estate agents. Add them to your referral network. More than many other professions, real estate agents are money motivated. Remember, they operate their own “Me, Inc.” businesses, paying for their own advertising and generating their own leads. They understand referral fees. And, they understand and respond to money.

Work the Insurance Agents

When there’s storm damage or electrical damage, the local insurance agent is one of the first to know about it. While they may not be able to turn leads over to you, they can refer business to you. Meet the local agents. Give them your brochure. Tell them that you will jump through hoops if anyone finds themselves in need as a result of a crisis. Explain that your company uses menu book pricing so that everyone pays the same amount. Your objective is to show the agent that you are an upstanding person who will not try to take advantage of his clients or his company and that you will respond professionally, solve problems, and generally not embarrass him.

Most of the calls you will receive are likely to be more service-oriented than replacement-oriented. That’s okay. Refer those over to the service department. When you do get a replacement call, it will likely be a demand-driven, “buy now” call.

Contact Commercial Contractors

If your company does not do much commercial work, or at least much heavy commercial work, talk with the pure mechanical contractors in town. Most pure mechanicals hate residential work. They are not set up for it, but feel obligated to help their clients when they call about work for their home. Try to add these mechanicals to your referral network.

Explain that you do not want to chase commercial business, no matter what your company might do. You are a residential salesperson and would be willing to take care of the residential replacement jobs they run into from time to time, and pay the owner a spiff in return.

Matt Michel is president of the Service Roundtable (www.ServiceRoundtable.com), an organization dedicated to helping contractors prosper. Matt is also the publisher of Comanche Marketing, a free marketing e-zine. Subscriptions are available at www.ComancheMarketing.com. You can contact him directly at matt.michel@serviceroundtable.com. Or send your comments to Contracting Business at letters@contractingbusiness.com.