Becoming a Referral Superstar: Asking For Referrals So You Actually RECEIVE Referrals!! (Part 1 of 2)

by Sabrina Risley

We all had grandiose visions of opening our business, kicking our feet up on the desk, and answering incoming calls and demands for our widgets.  Unfortunately, that’s not how it happens. However, when you become a Referral Superstar, your phone begins to ring and you soon get more qualified, ready-to-buy prospects knocking at your door.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading two books pertaining to referrals: The Referral of a Lifetime by Tim Templeton and Endless Referrals by Bob Burg. I consistently use both as reference tools. What I learned from both books is that to become a Referral Superstar, first you need to know how to build a referral network so that you actually receive referrals. In this case, you need to answer Why, Who, What, and When so you can get to the HOW. 

W #1 = Why

You might be asking yourself, “If I do a good job, won’t I just GET referrals?” It’s possible, but by asking for referrals, you greatly increase the chances of receiving referrals, and you most certainly receive them more quickly. Asking for referrals isn’t selfish. It’s about giving and passing along valuable resources. People love to connect and they love to help. When they refer someone, they know they are being of service by making the connection. When you give people the opportunity to help, they will.

Additionally, referrals are the BEST source for new customers, as prospects are more likely to believe what others say about you than what you tell them about yourself. There is nothing more prized than having the opportunity to meet someone based on the strong recommendation from their friend or associate. Referrals come to you already trusting in who you are and what you offer. You are already on the pedestal, placed there by the referring party.  With each new referral turning into new business, it leads to more opportunity to grow and expand your network of referral based clients!

W #2 = Who

The Rule of 250 states that you have at least 250 contacts in your circle of influence.  It further states that each of your 250 contacts has a circle of influence of 250 as well.  Wow… that’s more than 62,000 people at your fingertips!!  Doesn’t it make sense then to say that your 250 contacts know people who need your products/service?

The first step is to explore your existing network to identify the best people from whom you can ask for referrals. These could include: satisfied current and previous customers; raving fans and champions; those with whom you have a trusted relationship; friends; family; contacts with whom you have sufficiently established a know, like, trust factor, or rapport and connection. When it comes to building a referral based business, your network is your lifeline.

W #3 = What

Once you identify who to ask, begin identifying exactly what you are asking for. What does a good referral look like?  Saying that “anyone and everyone is a good referral” ensures you’ll get referred to no one. It’s best to narrow down to specifics as it helps your contacts know who to refer to you. The more specific and focused you are, the more likely you are to get a referral.

Be specific and determine what you are asking from your referral source.

  • Geography: In which geographic area do you prefer to work? Even if you can work nationwide, it’s best to narrow the geographic region so you referral source can actually imagine prospects for you in that specific area. This doesn’t mean you won’t receive referrals or business outside that area. This is about narrowing the focus for your referral source.
  • Focus on a Product or Service: What is your core or primary focus of the products or services you offer? You can also view this from the perspective of offering the most well-received product/service available and lead with that. Again, narrowing the focus for your referral source.
  • Type of Client or Person: What are the specifics about your ideal client/referral? Are they in a specific age or income range? What type of person, or what situation or circumstances define the person who best fits the products or services for which you are seeking a referral? Are they retirees? Families with young children? Being specific here further helps in receiving referrals.

By following these first 3 W’s, you are well on your way to growing your business through referrals. Spend some time this month identifying your who (referral partners) and your what (specifics), so you are ready for part two of this article, which includes WHEN and HOW to ask for referrals.

“When we seek help, people are there to help.  But you have to take the first step and ask for it. ”
~ Angie Ridings

For related reading, see also our Janauary 2011 post, The Most Important Factor to Receiving Referrals = YOU!

(c) 2012 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include Sabrina Risley’s Bio information below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Sabrina Risley founded Behind The Moon, Inc.® in 2003, a Colorado-based networking organization that sets itself apart with its motto “grow your business by helping others grow theirs.” Behind The Moon offers several networking events across Colorado’s Front Range that attract professionals who network to give rather than get. You will find Sabrina speaking to audiences about effective networking techniques, the power of partnerships, and principles of service and giving as a means to grow a business. Sign up for Sabrina’s free report, Networking For Success at http://www.behindthemooninc.com/index.php/free-report.

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Death By Coffee: Seven Effective Networking Strategies for the New Year

By Sabrina Risley, extrapolated with permission from an article by Alecia Huck, Maverick & Company.

It’s the start of a brand new year and you know what that means.  That’s right, it’s time to make New Year’s resolutions!  At the very least, this means the crowd at the gym will quadruple.  Traditionally, it also means the number of professionals who get out and network more than triples.  But just as the gym crowd eventually wanes, so too can the crowd at networking events.  I attribute this waning to ineffective networking which causes wheel-spinning, something for which professionals rightly have little tolerance and therefore let up on networking.

If you intend to do any amount of networking this year, you will want to do so strategically so as to make networking a useful and sustainable marketing activity. Networking without an effective strategy is what Alecia Huck (the sassy CEO & Founder of Maverick & Company) refers to as “Death By Coffee.”  She outlines some incredible strategies for effective networking in her article, The Seven Most Common, Most Surprising Networking Mistakes & How to Do It Better.

START WITH WHAT YOU’VE GOT – One of the biggest missed opportunities is to actually connect, reconnect and interconnect the network you already have. Leverage the work you’ve already done and the relationships you’ve already got before you start spending time and energy trying to build new ones. Identify Strategic Partners, Candidates and Contacts and then focus your time on Strategic Partners and that small group of Candidates that are most likely to become Strategic partners and sources of referrals.

LOOK FOR GREAT STRATEGIC PARTNERS – If you focus on finding clients, you’re focused on finding one person to write you one check.  Alternately, a single Strategic Partner is worth 10-100 clients and can connect you with multiple opportunities on an ongoing basis. Looking for Strategic Partners will get you further, faster, than just looking for your next client.

INVEST STRATEGICALLY, NOT EVENLY – Spending time with bad candidates means you have less time to spend with good ones.  Not all potential connections are a good fit for your business. Not all connections are created equal. Understand who is a good fit and who is not, act accordingly and spend your time wisely.

SEE GOOD PEOPLE 3x’sOne coffee meeting is just the beginning of something, not the completion of it and if the person IS a good partner, one coffee will not be enough. Relationships are built primarily through shared experiences and shared connections. As a general rule for new connections, you want to see good people 3 times in 3 months in order to build a real relationship. As the relationship progresses, follow up accordingly, based on whether or not they end up as a good Strategic Partner.

PRE-PLAN EVENTS FOR EASY RECONNECTING – Each month, look for and put events in your calendar to give yourself multiple options for inviting Candidates to and staying connected or reconnecting with good people. This also makes it infinitely easier to hit your 3 meetings in 3 months goal with good new contacts. Think beyond coffee meetings… power lunches, large open events and educational events. Pre-planning allows you to have events you can mention during a good first meeting AND reasons to call and reconnect after.

BRING A BUDDY – Time is a precious commodity and when you go to an event alone, you miss a golden opportunity to make your investment of time and energy do double duty.  Even if the person cannot attend with you, the simple act of calling allows you to reconnect and they are sure to be flattered to have been invited.  Carpool to get some good one-to-one time or make a plan to meet several people at an event, allowing you to make multiple re-connections at the same event.  Just don’t go alone.

CONNECT TO NETWORKS, NOT INDIVIDUALS – It takes time to build relationships and credibility with new people. It also takes time to stay connected. When you INTERCONNECT your network, you leverage all your past investments.  So connect to existing networks and connect your contacts to your other contacts to build networks around you.  Your old connections will share about other projects results with your new connections. Your people will talk to each other about you. They’ll often do business together, like each other, and build relationships of their own. It’s far easier to stay connected to a web of connected people than it is to stay in touch with a bunch of individuals.

As with most things in life, success is not about working harder, it’s about working smarter. Knowing a few simple secrets and following a few simple rules can make a HUGE difference in how effective your networking efforts will be. While all seven strategies are important and useful, applying even ONE will make a positive difference. Often the source of a major breakthrough is a relatively minor shift in strategy.

Cheers to you and effective networking in the New Year!

(c) 2012 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information for Sabrina Risley below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

Sabrina Risley founded Behind The Moon, Inc.® in 2003, a Colorado-based networking organization that sets itself apart with its motto “grow your business by helping others grow theirs.” Behind The Moon offers several networking events across Colorado’s Front Range that attract professionals who network to give rather than get. You will find Sabrina speaking to audiences about effective networking techniques, the power of partnerships, and principles of service and giving as a means to grow a business. Sign up for Sabrina’s free report, Networking For Success at http://www.behindthemooninc.com/index.php/free-report.


Reduce the Sales Cycle Through Sensational Service!

By Sabrina Risley

Here’s the scene: You are at a networking event, excited at the thought of meeting new prospects.  You connect with another professional who could possibly introduce you to a plethora of qualified leads.  You shake hands.  Exchange business cards.  Promise to call.  You breathe in a sigh of relief and think, “My work here is done… this is exactly what I came here for!”   As the event goes on, you meet a few more like-minded folks.  You can’t wait to get back to the office to schedule appointments with them.

However the scene is anything but peaceful and serene when you return to your office.  There are voicemails to return, emails to answer, a proposal to complete, paperwork to file, and oh yeah – when was the last time you posted on Facebook?   Before you know it, a few hours go by and the day is done.  Two days are done, and then three days, and four.  Pretty soon, you  can barely remember who you wanted to follow up with and why, let alone find where you put their business card!

And just like that, it happens… time passes and urgency diminishes, you lose the excitement as well as a golden opportunity for creating a collaborative partnership with a new connection.  You’ve lost the opportunity to capitalize on a meaningful encounter and actually building your business through referrals.

You’ve likely heard it mentioned, “The fortune is in the follow up.”  Follow up and follow through is a necessity!  It’s like wanting to pitch a baseball but dropping the ball during the windup.  Following through with new connections is critical if you want to pitch within the strike zone.  It’s an absolute necessity to build real and genuine connections that flourish into mutually beneficial  relationships where referrals and contacts are safely shared between both parties.  It takes trust which you can build and earn through consistent and regular follow-up.

But who has time to follow up?  About 1% of the population actually makes it a priority to follow up with a new connection within 48 hours.  For the remaining 99% of the population, we have every intention of following up but don’t make the time to do so or don’t have a good follow up system.

To be successful at following up, you need a plan, you need a system and you need to follow it!

Good follow up includes consistent and meaningful encounters.  It means people see you, hear from you and have the opportunity to talk to you on a regular basis.  The more often you have meaningful encounters with your contacts, the greater the opportunity to build trusting relationships.  Meaningful encounters can include an emailed or mailed newsletter, mailing or emailing a link to an article they might find interesting, acknowledging birthdays and special occasions with a phone call, card or social media post, remembering and asking about previous conversations you’ve had with them, initiating introductions so they can meet needed resources, sending referrals and leads, inviting them to an event they might like to attend with you, and the list can go on.

Now, let me clarify – I’m not suggesting you “stalk” your contacts.  I’m simply recommending you follow up with and take the time to get to know new contacts, enabling you the ability to really add value, serve and give in a way that is meaningful to them.  Regardless of how detailed and sensational your follow up plan is, be forewarned that relationship building doesn’t happen overnight.

Just remember… it’s a little give, and it’s a little take and it’s a whole lot of follow through that leads to success in the end.

For guidelines, tools and ideas to create and implement a simple follow up plan that you can maintain on a consistent basis, check out BTM’s SERVICE TO SENSATIONAL.  SAVE $40 if you order by September 30, 2011.

(c) 2011 Behind The Moon, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Feel free to share this article in its entirety and include the Bio information below along with live link back to this blog post.  Thank you.

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