This month we have been covering the topic of Networking and Referrals:
1. Developing the Attitude for Networking (and life). The old saying is true that your “attitude determines your altitude.” You will only go as far as your attitude will carry you. We looked at the kind of attitudes that enable you to successfully expand your network and make your life all that it can be. There are certain attitudes you must have toward circumstances and those that you must have toward yourself and others. Your attitude also governs the process of what takes place when you are networking. We discussed attitude three weeks ago.
2. Becoming a Person of Influence. The ability to attract and influence others is paramount to being a successful networker. We covered the principles of influence and what motivates others to follow your lead, which, in turn, builds your network. We also discussed how to expand your contact list with people who want to go with you to greater heights. We covered this in detail two weeks ago.
3. Working your Network. It takes a certain skill to search for and gain new referrals in order to expand your business. We showed you how to develop your network and grow your business—what to do before the meeting, during the meeting and after the meeting, all designed to help you grow your business through an expanding network of people. We covered this in last week’s edition.
4. Getting the Referral. The success of your business depends on keeping your current customers satisfied while at the same time gaining new customers. The key to getting new customers is getting a referral. In this week’s edition, we will discuss a technique for this and cover the ins and outs of working with people in such a way that they help you find others to grow your business—and gladly refer you!
This week, under the topic of “Getting the Referral,” I want to talk about what you have to offer as the person asking for the referral and the mindset of the person giving it.
Let’s think through this situation. You have worked to develop a relationship with a person and have now arrived at the moment of truth: Will they give you the referral? You’ll find some specific techniques for getting the referral later, but I want to draw our attention to something we may not think about often enough: the mindset of the person who has been asked for the referral. If you can understand how this person is thinking, what their fears are, you will be able to negotiate and bring them to the point where they readily give you the referral.
So, what exactly are people thinking, either consciously or unconsciously, when they are asked to give a referral? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
The person they are referring you to. One of the things they think about is the person who you are asking to be referred to. For example, you may ask to be referred to a high-level executive, and the person’s first reaction might be, knowing the person you are asking for, that the person does not like to be referred to. That may be a deal killer right there. It may not have anything to do with you. (However, even those high-level people can be referred to if you provide enough value). This is the next point.
Value. The person you are speaking with is going to decide whether or not you provide value. Are you valuable to them first and foremost, and will you be valuable to the person they would refer you to? The more valuable you have been to them, the more likely you are to be to the referral. And this is key. The last thing they want to do is send you to someone and have them say, “What did you think this guy was going to do for me?” You want to create so much value in their mind that they know you will provide value to the person they would send you to.
Safety. The way you interact with people will create either a safe or unsafe atmosphere. If they had to go around and around with you in negotiations, or if you made them feel uncomfortable, then they will not refer you to another person. You see, people hold their contacts closely. Those contacts represent business, relationships and income to people. They will not refer you to someone if they think you will cause that person to feel uncomfortable. The best thing you can do is to create an atmosphere where the people you work with feel at ease and with no pressure to make decisions, one that will be a win for both sides.
What’s in it for me? Ultimately everybody wants to know what’s in it for them. This may not be money, but at the very least, people want to know that they are going to look good to the person they’re referring someone to. If they recommend you, they want to be sure that the response from the other person is going to be something along the lines of, “Mr. Nick, thanks so much for giving my name to Tom. He was really helpful, and I think we are going to do some work together. I appreciate it.” See what that referring person gets? They look good in their contact’s eyes.
Basically, in order to be good at getting referrals, you must understand the relationship a person has with the person you are trying to get to: They are gatekeepers. They are willing to only let the best through their gate. They want to protect both that person and their own future relationship with that person. If you can create those kinds of situations, and build your own relationships in such a way that they are open to you and what you do, you will be well on your way to getting what Bob Burg calls “Endless Referrals.”
Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!
Here are some specific thoughts on “getting the referral.” As mentioned last week, this is Networking 101. If you want to make sure that when you ask you receive, then follow the tips we’ve outlined.
Seven Practical Tips Guaranteed to Get You the Referral
1. Sow the seed. The referral is really secured (or lost) long before you ask for it. What you do in the preliminary stages is what will determine what happens when you ask. Nick has so much excellent material from the last few weeks on what kind of people we need to be in order to get the referrals and build our networks. Remember, you sow the seeds of referrals by being a good person, showing great skills, providing value, behaving professionally and having high integrity and the like. These are the kinds of things that “till the soil.” One other specific thing you can do to sow the seed is to drop a couple of references throughout the relationship that tips your hand that you will be asking for referrals. A good way is to say something like, “Eventually, I am going to ask you if you would help me find a couple of others who may be interested in this kind of thing,” or something similar. This just lets them know it’s coming—but you better deliver the goods or it won’t matter anyway!
2. Give them something first. This is what persuasion and influence expert Robert Cialdini calls the “Law of Reciprocity.” If you want to influence and persuade someone, a very important thing to do is to give them something. This makes them “in your debt,” so to speak. Now, we are not suggesting that you do this simply as an act of manipulation, but just as something that will help both you and the other party, and solidify the mutually beneficial relationship. For example, let’s say that you sell insurance and you are working with a person who is looking to add to their term-life insurance. Let’s say they sell advertising. Do you know anyone in a small business who may be interested in advertising? Then give them that referral! So you might say at your first meeting something like this: “You know, before I tell you about the insurance, I have a friend who is opening a little restaurant in town. He is going to need advertising. You should call him. His name is Fred, and his number is 555-2626. Give him a call and tell him I sent you.” Now, when it is your turn to ask for the referral, what do you think the ad guy is going to do? He is going to give something back to you.
3. Ask. Maybe the main reason you don’t have it is because you haven’t asked for it! This may seem basic, but many people just never ask. They do the deal and say thanks and walk away. If you want to get referrals, you will need to be sure to build the “ask” into the process. Ask everyone! There is never any harm in asking.
4. Be bold. Most of the time you will get to the moment of “ask” and you will just have to reach down deep within yourself and find your guts. You will have to be bold. We always have to remind ourselves to “be bold.”
5. Make it easy. You want the referral process to be as easy as it can for the person who is giving you the referral. Don’t ask them to spend an hour writing down names. Don’t ask them to call you. Don’t ask general questions like, “Do you know anyone who…” As Bob Burg suggests, make it simple by saying something like, “Would any of your Monday afternoon golf partners be interested in…” or “Would any of your siblings like to…” This gives them a small field to think through and makes it easy for them. The question you want to answer is this: How much work am I asking them for?
6. Ensure safety. As I mentioned earlier, they are looking for safety, both for themselves and the other person. They are protecting their contacts, their time and their reputations. Do you ensure safety? One way to do so is to assure them of that (this assumes you have already shown them that in your own dealings). Here is a sample of what you might say: “I know you have a lot of contacts and value them a lot. I would like to contact a few of them with your permission. I know they are busy and important people, but I would like to call them and see if they have any interest. Obviously, I would treat them with respect and be sensitive to their time. I assure you I that would in no way hard-sell them. Now…” And then comes the “ask.” If you have been safe with them and tell them you will do the same with their contacts, they will be more likely to give you the referral.
7. Be thankful. Be sure to say thanks immediately upon getting the referral. Be sure to send a thank you card or call them a few days later and say thanks. Be sure to keep them posted when you finally do business with their referral. If it is appropriate, send them a gift of thanks when the deal goes through.
You know, when it comes right down to it, getting referrals is just about people skills and human nature. If you study it and play by the rules of human nature, you will get all the referrals you can handle!