There are many things that must be taken into account if you are going to be a referral generator. Here are a few that come to mind first.
R – Rapport – Rapport is the first step. Unless you have a solid relationship with those with whom you network, the possibility of business referrals and leads are seldom possible. Every time you refer someone in your network you put your credibility on the line. I never, repeat: NEVER give a referral unless I have a close business relationship with them, know them well and trust them to deliver on what they promise.
E – Engage – The more you connect with others in your group the better your chances of receiving referrals. You must continually remind them of the kind of business leads that you would like to receive. It may never occur to your current contacts to broker an introduction if you don’t. It’s up to you to plant that idea in their minds.
F – Follow-Up – Received a referral? Follow-up NOW. Don’t wait. A speedy follow-up reflects on your credibility. Lack of follow-up is a fatal flaw with many networkers. It’s important to follow-up with the person who gave you the referral. Let them know your progress. Always remember to express your thanks is a unique and unexpected way.
E – Experience – Before you “give” a referral: The experience level of the one who is getting referred is critical. How long have they been doing what you are referring them for? Do you have experience working with them? Have you used their service? Before “asking” for referrals: give others in your network extra service and follow-up support before requesting referrals. They need to know your own experience level before they will trust you enough to offer referrals. You need to establish trust to build a strong source of referrals.
R – Recognition – When someone gives you a referral give them recognition in your networking group and to other people you network with. People love to be acknowledged. Send them a note, keep them informed of your progress and maybe even treat them to lunch. Make sure your referral network knows how much you appreciate their effort on your behalf.
R – Resources – Some businesses are likely to have more than one way of helping others when a referral is given. Follow-up with the person referring you to see if they have given the same referral to anyone else and if it is okay to refer them to others that might be able to help them better. Often the loyalty of networkers are split when they belong to more than one networking group (not recommended). They may feel obligated to give a real estate referral to two different Realtors®, in two different groups. You need to know your competition.
A – Accountability – It’s been my experience that very few networking groups hold their members accountable for giving referrals to others in their group. This is a big mistake. Offering referrals and leads is one of the primary purposes of being together as a group in the first place. When there is little accountability, very few business leads are given or exchanged. Members start to feel that the group isn’t working and begin to drop out.
L – Learn – When someone gives you a referral, get as much information about the person being referred as possible. This will assist you in making sure that the referral is someone you can help. It also helps the person referring to better know exactly what they can expect you to do for the prospect. Secondly, don’t ever think you know everything there is to know about business networking. Be a consistent learner; someone who is always on a quest to know more about the ins and outs of networking. Don’t be fooled, it takes years of constant practice to be a successful networker.
“Referrals are a dividend on superior performance.” ~ Lorna Riley
To make referral marketing a proactive part of your lead generation activities, you need to be referable. Ensure that you deliver what you promise, when you promise – and that you actually deliver value to your clients. If you want referrals… give referrals. It’s one of the best ways to get them in return.
“Paying me to refer you rarely works, because you’re not just asking for a minute of my time, you’re asking me to put my credibility on the line.” ~ Seth Godin
In my opinion, kickbacks and referral fees are unethical. Some say that they are ethical if you disclose that you are getting a kickback or referral fee. I thinks it’s best to totally avoid accepting kickbacks and referral fees altogether. That way you avoid any possibility of conflict. If referral fees are not disclosed, they have the great potential of violating trust between the referrer and the individual being referred.
If you are intent on “giving” referrals – and you should be – it helps to carry a card case with the business cards of others in your networking group in your car as you make your daily calls. I made it a habit of taking the card case to calls and one of the last things I talked about was to tell them about my networking group and ask if there was anyone they needed a referral to. If yes, I would gather the information, give them a card of the person that I was referring them to and tell them they would be calling them soon. Next, I made sure that the person I would be referring them to knew as many details about what they needed. I soon became known in my networking group as a “power connector.” I was also on the lookout for referrals for others I knew that were not in my networking group.
Giving and receiving referrals is an art form. You must “listen” for a need from someone you’ve met. It takes your full attention and intention to always be looking for a referral opportunity. Learn the process and you will generate referrals like a well-oiled machine. This process requires patience.
Make the most of every networking opportunity. Step out of your comfort zone at networking events and set a goal to talk to at least three new people. Remember to ask them how you can help then and be sure to tell them the kind of referrals that work best for you. When you give referrals you can expect referrals, however they may not always come from the person you gave a referral to. I have found that it doesn’t matter who it comes from, only that referrals come your way.
Copyright © 2012 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. 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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