There is a distinction that networkers must learn. There is a BIG difference between a lead and a referral. It’s very important to know the difference if you want to be a successful networker.
When someone in your network gives you a lead they are giving you a name to call, not a referral. As we help each other to find more business, why would we want to send our valued referral partners into the dark abyss of leads that most likely will never work out? It’s basically not much better than a cold-call. You don’t need them for that. You could purchase a random source of leads and get basically the same thing. You can get leads from the newspaper, the phone book, or the computer, etc.
“However, a referral is the opportunity to do business with someone in the market to buy your product or service who’s been told about you by a mutual friend or associate. In other words, when you contact them, they already know who you are and what you do. It is stronger than just a lead because the prospect has talked to your mutual acquaintance and is generally expecting the call. Hence, they are referred.” ~ Ivan Misner
A referral is the opportunity to do business. Referrals are much stronger than a lead in that this prospect has talked to your mutual acquaintance and is generally expecting your call. The best kind of referral is when someone gives you permission to use their name to get in the door. Those are the kind of referrals that have the highest closing rate. The referring networker has already set up some level of trust and rapport by recommending the person they’re referring. Those are “quality” referrals.
So many networkers are guilty of scrambling around at the last moment trying to come up with a name to give you as a lead when they are on the way to the networking meeting. Those are the worse kind. You NEVER want to hand out a referral until you’ve had a conversation with the person that you are giving as the referral. I want to know if the person’s name they are giving me knows who I am, how I might help and is expecting my call.
Ivan Misner goes into much more detail in his article, “What’s Better: A Lead or a Referral?” I highly recommend that you read it to get the “rest of the story.”
Another example of a failed lead or referral is when someone in your network tells you, “I gave someone your name.” That’s nice that you were thinking about me, but am I supposed to be happy about that? They have my name and I have no way to follow up. Don’t do me any favors! They called you to get help. If you can’t help them, pass the referral to someone you trust who can.
If you’ve done your job by talking about me and setting up some level of trust, how about giving them my number and telling them, “Larry James is one of my trusted friends, I’m sure he will serve you well. I’ll tell him about you and give him your name and contact information so you two can get together.” I never ask if I can give someone their name, I just do it. If they ask me not to, I honor their request. If not, I pass the referral – with complete contact info – along to someone I trust. In my wedding business, brides and grooms often hire the first person who calls them, so it’s imperative that I have their contact info. Next, give me their name and contact info so I can follow up immediately.
Then… there’s the follow-up! This is where most networkers drop the ball. You’ve all heard people say, “Strike while the iron’s hot!” This adage alludes to the blacksmith’s forge (late 1300s). “Make hay while the sun shines” is another. That means that when opportunity shows up, you take advantage of it while it’s available. As soon as you receive a referral… that’s when the iron is hot. “As soon as possible” is best and certainly within 24 hours is a must.
Copyright © 2013 – 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 Networking 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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