First – I write this with HUGE thanks to everyone in my network and beyond who have referred to me. It is much appreciated and I hope you know how hard I work to reciprocate. If you didn’t, you do now.
So here’s how I thought referrals worked. I, being of sound mind and new to business development, will make every effort to connect people in my network to the newer people in my network. Specifically those who were in need of each others services or could benefit from meeting each other. For me, the main reason to do that is it’s the right thing to do and it’s how my brain is hard wired. If you have a problem, I probably know someone with a solution. Why wouldn’t I put the two of you together? What I’m learning is that this isn’t always the case. If you happen to be a referral cheapskate, here’s why making referrals should matter:
1. The main one is: it’s just the right thing to do.
95% of the population is NOT trying to steal your business or take over your network. By creating connections between service providers and clients to fill a skills gap, you are doing a good thing. Why? Because you are showing your customer that you will use every strength you have, including the skills they came to you for in the first place, to make sure their job is done right. If you are that possessive of your contacts that you won’t refer to others, well, that’s a damn shame and I’m sure I can connect you to this great therapist I have in my network. That’s just the kind of giving person I am.
2. Educational Opportunities
If you are constantly referring to the same set of people for the same skill set (such as social media and writing – thanks BTW!), what should that be telling you? To me it screams opportunity. An opportunity for you or someone within your business to take some courses and fill that skills gap in house. I know I’ve learned to do many things myself that are now benefiting clients. You do everything and do it well so you’ll still need to refer (thanks again) but maybe not quite as often.
Just like in points 1 and 2, there are opportunities when you refer. If you’ve referred to the same person 10 times in the last two months, it’s time to talk partnership. Whether it’s a deal on rates for the clients you refer, a mention on mutual websites as identified partners with outboound links or a barter arrangement where you can leverage your skills in return for including that partner in the scope of a project without incurring additional fees. Either way, you’re making it clear that a partnership with you has value and is something worth considering.
4. Be Social
I don’t mean invite people you’ve referred to to your next office party or home BBQ. Though I’m sure the thought would be appreciated. I mean make sure to mention them on social media. Try to include the specific service you referred for, the great job they did (otherwise reconsider the whole referring thing) and a link to their website. Why? It then becomes social proof for that service provider that they can share via their own channels. Who knows who might be reading and take the time to create another connection you hadn’t even thought of?
5. Don’t Quite Believe Me Yet?
That’s ok. You probably weren’t referred to this blog post by someone whose opinion you valued and trusted. It probably popped up in your home feed and you thought heck why not? Well thanks for reading! Much appreciated. But just in case you need more convincing about the benefits of referrals, here are some fun clicks for you:
- www.businessinsider.com/5 golden truths of referrals
Depending on your product or service, you could use one or all of these suggestions. The clicks give you even more. See how this works? I refer you to information and you benefit. Win/win. The main idea is that if someone in your network came to the conclusion that referrals are a good thing and referred to you, I strongly suggests that you find a way to either reciprocate or thank them to your network thereby increasing the chance of an accidental connection. Why? Because in business circles (which are infinitely larger and better connected than even 20 years ago. Thank you Google.) it usually gets around pretty fast if you more of a taker than a giver of referrals. And if that’s the case, you won’t have to worry for too long about using any of these suggestions because you’ll be out of business. And that’s not a connection you can afford to make.