Sunday, January 24, 2016

Meet Timothy M. Houston, Author and Entrepreneur

Timothy M. Houston is a father, a #1 Bestselling Author, an in-demand speaker, a high-energy and motivational trainer, and an entrepreneur with 20 years of making businesses and people more productive, profitable, and prosperous. Learn more about his book, The Referral Rules, by visiting You can also learn more about Tim by reading this previous With Five Questions interview from 2013.

1. You have written about business networking and referral marketing in the past. What inspired you to write another book about referral marketing?

This book was actually written out of frustration. As a business person who has 20+ years of experience, it always amazes me how some of the most seasoned business people forget the basics and how some of the newer people to the business world were never taught the basics. In the introduction of the book, I tell the story of how I attended a networking event and witnessed a behavior which encouraged the attendees to believe that they were entitled to getting referrals just because they showed up to the event! That kind of attitude and behavior continued even after this particular event when one of the attendees assumed he was going to get referrals from me just because we had interacted.

Referral marketing is an ever important and ever evolving subject area in the business world. I decided to write a short book called The Referral Rules that teaches seven time-tested, proven ways to generate more qualified referrals for almost any business. I designed it so that both the veteran and novice can read it in under an hour and immediately implement what they learned.

2. After releasing The Referral Rules as an ebook in 2013, why did you decide to release a paperback version in 2016?

It was in response to an interesting phenomena/trend. My first two books were published both as paperback and as ebooks. By the time I released The Referral Rules in November 2013, the ebook versions of my prior books were outselling the paperback by a four to one margin each month.

So I decided The Referral Rules would be my first book to be released only in ebook format, and I made it exclusively available for sale on Amazon and available through their KDP Select program.

Then two things happened. First, many people who had my previous books would ask me if The Referral Rules was available in print because they wanted a physical copy of it (plus I couldn't autograph a digital copy at any of my in-person events). Second, since The Referral Rules is a short book (only 75 pages) many people told me that they would be not only be inclined to read the book in an hour or less; they were less likely to be distracted from reading a paperback versus a digital book on their phone or tablet as emails, texts, and other things would distract them.

So I decided that I would give my audience what they wanted: an actual, physical copy of The Referral Rules.

3. What are some common reasons that some entrepreneurs seem to come up empty when it comes to getting referrals?

I teach in my seminars and online programs that many people although being "relationship rich" are often "referral poor" due to five common reasons. In brief they are:

  1. People are too distracted and don't "care" about you or your services/products yet. You have to break through to them and cause them to take notice of you. One solution is to create a system that motivates and causes them to take action refer someone to you. (I discuss and provide the various outlines to do this in my book, Leads to Referrals).
  2. People prematurely ask for referrals when the relationship is too new or not deep enough. People won't refer because they won't risk their personal and professional reputation or even take a financial risk by referring their best clients to someone they really don't know, trust, or have confidence in.
  3. People's image doesn’t match their message. They may portray themselves one way in person and very differently on social media. Everything that you say and do both online and off creates an experience point to which people will refer in their mind that helps to convince them why they should refer a prospect to you.
  4. Others don't know how to give referrals to you or what would be a qualified referral for you. It's your responsibility to educate them how to identify the opportunities, open a conversation, and refer a qualified person to you.
  5. You are not giving referrals to others. In order to receive, you have to give to those you trust, admire, respect, and have confidence in.

4. What distinguishes a viable prospect from a lead that doesn't go anywhere?

In The Referral Rules I define a qualified referral as being: "the privilege of the opportunity given to you by someone else to potentially do business with someone who wants, needs, or desires the products or services that you offer."

The person who wants, needs, or desires your services or products is a viable prospect because a) they have a relationship with the person who is referring them to you and that person has told them about you and in essence has pre-qualified them for you, and b) they are ready to have some form of communication with you. defines a "lead" as: "a suggestion or piece of information that helps to direct or guide; tip; clue: I got a lead on a new job. The phone list provided some great sales leads."

A lead is a person who, at best, is seeking information. They can come from a variety of sources such as a business card or a list, or they can even respond to an advertisement.

Usually, leads are not really in the market or at the very least, have not yet committed to one solution or another. From a business person's standpoint, a lead is similar to a cold-call: you have no relationship with the person, they aren't really expecting to hear from you, and there's no one to vouch for the quality of your services or products and about you as a person.

5. You've written three books and owned/managed four businesses. What do you see yourself doing next?

I always see myself being busy (in a productive way), so there's always another project I'm working on. My long-term plan has me writing more books, producing more online courses and in-person seminars, and getting back on the road to do more speaking engagements.

I'm already working on two immediate business goals. First, later this year another book called No-Nonsense Networking will be released. It's a collaborative effort between me and several other business people and noted authorities that teaches people what to do before, during, and after your networking efforts.

The second goal has already started in that I just launched a new event for business owners and entrepreneurs called The Entrepreneur's Epiphany which I have been beta-testing over the past two years. It's a mastermind/learning experience where the attendees are not just the students but the teachers as well. It has been very well-received and we just launched our first event in New York City in January. My long-term goal is to have these events on a monthly basis in cities and towns across the US and then around the world.

Thanks, Tim!

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