December 5, 2010

Referrals - The Two Way Street of Appreciation Marketing

Quick, what is a proper referral in business?  Is it when you tell person A about person B who needs what person A has to sell?  Is it when you give to person B one of Person A’s business cards?  Is it when you tell person A that you heard of a business with which they might be able to do business?

Well, you are wrong, wrong, and wrong, on all three answers.  A proper referral is when you tell person B about person A’s business, and then give person B all the contact information for person A.  Then you tell person A all about why you think person B would be interested in person A’s business and give person A all the contact information for person B.  You also tell each of them that you want to know what happens with the referral, and you follow up if you do not hear back.

If you hear back from A and B that they have contacted each other and have met to discuss their offerings and needs, you should ask for the result of the meeting.  If they actually do business with each other, that is great.  If they do not do business with each other, you want to know what went wrong so that you can better gauge your referrals in the future.

You do not “sell” person A to person B or person B to person A.  You recommend that they meet and discuss their needs and offerings with each other.  You are not the marketing representative for either one; you are the person who puts them together so they can communicate with each other.

Of course you need to know enough about persons A and B so that you can make intelligent referrals to both.  You also need to know that you can trust both of them to be professional, passionate about their businesses or lives, and personable towards others.  You must be assured that they will treat each other professionally, even if they do not do business with each other.

How do you reach this level of trust?  Referrals are a two way street.  You must get to know each of them before you can refer them to each other.  You must be able to trust each party and believe that they will do right by the other party in the referral.  After all, it is your reputation on the line here; it will be your fault if one party does not treat the other one professionally.

Hopefully, your referrals will show to your networking partners that you are a person who is willing and is capable of making their lives better, both professionally and personally.  After all, referrals can work for our personal lives also.  Hopefully, your referrals will result in your networking partners passing referrals back to you also.  After all, that is the essence of karma.

So as we enter the holiday season, think of the best gift that you can give to one of your networking partners.  Get to know them and pass referrals back and forth with them.  Use their services or products as gifts to your family, friends, prospects, and clients.  Also, give them the gift of solid, valid referrals that will enhance their bottom line.

If you are lucky enough to get the benefit of someone’s referral, or their consultation, that enhances your business, thank them, letting them know that their effort is appreciated and means so much to you.  Then go out and pay them back with a referral, or consultation, of your own.  Sometimes the best referrals that we can give may be our own business given to one of our networking partners.

Once again, please give me your feedback, suggestions, and comments.  Call me, 360-314-8691, so we can get together and chat, or send me an email at with your thoughts.  Maybe you can contribute your experiences to this blog.  Thank you for your interest and thoughts.  I answer my phone, and I return voice mails and emails.

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