There is a big difference between giving someone a referral (lead) and offering a recommendation. It’s important to understand the difference in the quality of each action. It has been my experience that most referrals and recommendations take place in smaller networking groups with 20 to 40 members. These members have taken the time to get to know each other on a personal level. They ultimately learn to like and trust each other and do business together. No relationship. . . no referrals OR recommendations.
They focus on making sure that instead of just handing out a dozen cold referrals (non-qualified leads) that anyone could find for themselves, they qualifiy the referral to be sure that when the person they give it to calls the party referred they will expect the call and be receptive to talking further. I will often give the referral to someone then call the person I referred and let them know who will or may call. That’s a qualified referral. They can save everyone a lot of wasted time when you pre-qualifiy each lead you give, then follow up.
A non-qualified referral is just a cold call with a name attached to it. Most go nowhere. Many networkers will give you a name and number but the they never tell the referral that you will be calling or ever check to see if they are even interested in what your business does. Those kind of referrals give you a bad reputation.
My hope is to develop a network of business owners and professionals that not only use my business but also recommend me to their inner circle. Giving qualified referrals is the key. Your networking pals will like you and trust you more and are more likely to reciprocate.
When you network, you need to be looking for two things:
1. Qualified referrals for others. (It’s the difference between hot leads and cold leads.)
2. Ways to connect the people you trust and do business with to others (people to recommend to others). This would be a personal contact from my group of networkers. Some call this “human-equity” or “social capital” that you share with others.
Your personal goal should be to help increase the level of networking where networkers actually gain business connections (recommendations) and pre-qualified referrals, not cold call referrals. Spend time learning about each other’s businesses. That’s the professional way. It’s also a faster way to build quality relationships as you build your business.
“Follow up must be timely, relevant and real. There’s a person of my acquaintance who shares leads and referrals that are what we call ‘dead leads/rusted referrals’ who inspired that “secret” in all my books. Perhaps I was too subtle. So, I will gladly repeat, reframe and reiterate: Timely referrals are gold. If you’re going to tell someone about a job lead, be sure it exists. If you’re going to share the name of an agent, be sure that person is still in business and taking on new clients. If you’re referring someone for a media interview, be sure that there’s a “fit”. You get the drift?” ~ Susan Roane, The Mingling Maven
Take caution that you like and trust those that you offer as recommendations as they become a directly reflection of who you are and how you do business. When you make a recommendation you are giving that person or business a “thumbs up!”
Also follow up with the person you gave the referral or recommendation to to see if it worked out. I once gave a hot lead to someone and after following up I discovered that they had not bothered to call and after another week began to offer excuses that they had left messages, etc., with no return calls. After checking with the person I recommended, I found out that their phone is answered by a live person 24/7. Needless to say that person never received any referrals or recommendations from me to others.
Yes, it takes a little more time and effort to pre-qualify your leads but the results are worth it. Your business will certainly grow exponentially. The power of resourcing must be a model in your networking group, because together everyone achieves more.
Read: “Be a Networking Power Connector!”
Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”
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