What else can you do with a great POTENTIAL referral source besides refer them business? Are there things you can do to speed up the know, like and trusting process so that they refer you sooner?
Clearly this is not a science and different people will respond to different things based on their personality, needs and how they most feel appreciated.
Too many people in business think that the only way to add value is to send a referral. Certainly, everyone loves referrals, but there are many ways to impact a person’s life.
The other thing to consider as you read this is to become more aware of your own strengths and how you can use those in developing business relationships. Some people are better connectors than others. Do you find that people warm up to you easily? Some people find themselves being trusted sooner than peers. You might come across as more transparent and sincere than others. Is your expertise more of a competitive advantage? Are you more empathic than others? Perhaps you are more curious to get to know people on a deeper level. All these things can factor into which areas below you spend more time on.
The first four ideas are primarily ways to impact someone’s professional life and the second four are more personal. Both areas matter deeply.
1. Think hard and answer this question:
How can I MOST add value to this person?
This is the most useful question I know of to give your brain a chance to think about truly helping someone else. The truth is it also helps to know where YOU come up with your best ideas because there may be no immediate answer to this question with some people who are not currently referring you. Few people come up with best ideas at work and does anyone come up with a great idea staring at a computer? You likely want to set aside time to think about this question with key people in your network.
Your answer could range from A-Z, business to personal.
Ask yourself: “What can I do for him/her? How can I help them?
What would be a SIGNIFICANT act of kindness?
Could it be something of personal interest, a hobby/passion, or relating to their family (think children!)?
See examples at the end of this blog about how other professionals ‘tipped’ relationships.
2. Refer them business
One in four of your COI’s (centers of influence) will MOST want referrals from you. About 25% of people are motivated extrinsically.
a) Ask them questions that help them be clear about who they want to meet. What you’re really trying to do is find out who you know that would be a good introduction. Odd as it sounds, this starts by believing that you may well know someone.
Start with a question like: What type of business are you most looking for?
b) Ask if they have a prospect list.
c) Who do they want to meet?
People in abc situation
Companies in xyz industry
Decision makers at companies in the def industry
d) Also ask about recent clients should descriptions of them be helpful.
e) Get them to teach you pain points since it is often when people are complaining about a ‘pain’ that you can want to help with a solution: “Listen for people who are complaining about….”
f) Get them to teach you conversation starters: Ask them this question: “How often do you talk to clients about…?”
3. Refer them to your COIs or find them groups to introduce them to
Ask them: “Which professionals typically refer you the best business?”
Put them in a room full of prospects: invite them to other groups/service clubs/trade associations that you belong to or know of.
Better yet, get them a speaking engagement in front of a room full of prospects.
4. Be an information broker
Share valuable information and ideas with them that could help them professionally (or even personally). A great business-building idea might be worth a lot more than one referral. If you’ve recently read a good blog, consider printing it off and giving it to them. It doesn't have to relate to your field – it’s whatever you genuinely think they might find useful.
This can be a quick way to set yourself apart. Most people don’t read so you will have little competition in this area.
5. Acts of service: Above and beyond your vocation: impact their personal life
Firstly, all this needs to mean is doing something that is beyond your core product or service that means a lot to the person you are trying to make an impact on.
Consider positioning yourself as a community resource beyond your livelihood. Be someone who knows more people and more about your community than your competition.
Get involved in a cause that matters to that other person (or your target market) so long as it means something to you too. Then ask:
a) “Are there any projects that I can volunteer for?
b) Are there any workshops or seminars I can put on? Any opportunities to write for your publication/newsletter?
c) Are there any boards I can serve on?
d) Are there any events I could sponsor?
e) Are there any causes that the members consider to be important that I can donate money to?”
Any of these can make quite a difference.
6. Send an unexpected gift
While we expect gifts on our birthdays and certain holidays, PEOPLE LOVE UNEXPECTED GIFTS! Some people most feel loved when receiving gifts. The key is to make them personalised and significant to them.
Also thank you’s (especially LAVISH ones): cards, lunch, and gift cards can go a long way.
For more on gifts, read this blog based on the book Giftology.
7. Quality time
Between relocations, life changes and hectic schedules, it is not unusual nowadays for people to have few if any quality friends, so a meaningful conversation where you play the role of friend, sounding board or even mentor can be hugely valued.
Even if you can’t think of an immediate way to help someone, spending time in an unhurried environment and being genuinely interested in who they are and what they care about can go a surprisingly long way.
Words of affirmation
Very few people are good at verbally acknowledging/commending others. People love positive recognition. Accomplished professionals work hard to do a good job yet how many hear something said to their face about it? What if you were the only person pointing this out in a key professional’s life?
Clearly it’s not a ‘technique’. It has to come from the heart. But those who do it well are loved for it!
One other professional way to consider doing this is to get your contact some local media coverage.
Examples of How Other Professionals ‘Tipped’ COI Relationships into Referral Sources
*Sent him a baseball biography
*Invited him as a guest to Boston Celtics ‘legends’ event for season ticket holders
*Collected silent auction items for his fundraiser
*Organized a lunch for COI’s prospects with a speaker who presented virtually
*Volunteered time on COI’s campaign for mayor
*Asked COI to mentor her on getting more actively involved in a charity he was passionate about
*Attended COI’s son’s book signing
*Invited her to event on a yacht featuring jazz singer
*Got him on a guest list for member’s only club
*Got him on PTO Board
*Helped her at a job fair
*Took him to MLB game
*Put him in room full of prospects as the speaker
*Invited to art events
*Played tennis together
*Invited her to Broadway show
*Bought college alum sweatshirt
*Sent her bouquet of her favorite flowers
*Sent him inspiring book
* Asked COI to mentor him on getting involved with racing Porches
*The COI became a client and finally understood the superior process he used with people
*Organized for his children to get a ride on the zamboni at the NHL halftime
*Found a holiday condo for his family in a different state for Thanksgiving and sent him list of fun hikes to take his kids on
*Sent him a t-shirt from his favorite micro-brewery
*Took him to a jazz concert and bought him a bottle of good scotch
*Mentored her daughter and her son’s hockey coach
*Special ops shooting event
*Sent tubs of ice cream during tax time to CPA firms with names of flavours re-labeled based on names of different tax forms
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