One questions I am asked most frequently about networking is how to give good referrals. A lot of people feel that they spend time offering good referrals, passing out other people’s business cards, even emailing contact information to people for their referral partners but nothing ever seems to come of it. Here are some tips to help improve your referral connections and help you become that go to person for “Who do you know?”
1. Know the person you are referring: The best way to know someone is to be familiar with their service through personal experience. You have a story to tell from personal experience. When there is no personal experience (when you can’t tell a story of your own) take the time to get to know the person you are referring. Be sure to ask them… “What do you want me to tell people it is that you do?” and “Who would be a good referral for you?” This is important, take notes.
2. Know those answers about yourself: How would you want someone to refer you? Why should or would they? Do your networking partners have a good understanding of what you offer? Do they have all of your contact information in their phone to share with people when they think of you? Make appointments to sit over coffee and build those referral relationships.
3. Make the connection: Do you send the referral or have the referred make the call?
Sometimes it depends on the person receiving the referral. Most times it is best to ask if you can have the person you are referring reach out to the person in need of their services otherwise the connection may never happen. Have an email template ready to go for those quick introductory referrals, be sure to include the contact information for both parties.
4. Gratitude goes a long way: The goal is for you, the person doing the referring, to get a thank you from both parties in the referral process. If you are the person receiving the referral or being referred remember to show your appreciation. A simple handwritten thank you can go a very long way. Show your appreciation and follow through and it will most likely be one of many referrals you will receive.
Here’s a quick example I shared with a group this morning…I met Skip the Landscaper who would be a great connection for Paul the Landscape Architect. I told Skip why I thought they would be a good connection, offered to connect them, and asked if it would be okay to share his information and have Paul call him. After the meeting I called Paul and left Skip’s number on his voicemail with a brief reason as to why they should connect. Later that day I sent an email introduction (a simple template I created to make life easier) and included both of their contact information and suggested they connect and why. At this point the balls in their court. I’ll check back in a few days with Paul to see if they connected and how it went.
Take the time to get to know people you network with and be on the lookout for opportunities to connect them. Become the connector and you will become the connected as well. Building a good referral connection is the key to becoming connected, it’s a given.