Tuesday, June 24, 2008

REFERRALS

As entrepreneurs and salespeople, referrals are our lifeblood because they jumpstart the trust-building with potential customers, partners and suppliers.

Naturally, we're always eager to refer a friend whose character and services we know well, but what do we feel when people we just met or we just agreed to buy from asks us to introduce them to our networks ?

Well, it depends. It depends on the level of intimacy we reached during our initial meeting or the sale. It depends on our excitement around the go-forward work our new contact is about to perform.

No need to fear being put in this situation, a relatively new contact asking you for a referral. At the end of the day, you hold all the power! And you should exercise it proactively.

When I have established a basic level of trust with new contacts, I try to go overboard to suggest them to my friends and associates. I always think of this as a win-win, because for any new business my new contact gets with people in my network, I am helping my friends be more successful. So as soon as I trust my PR firm, I go out of my way to introduce them to others.

Of course, you don't ultimately have to make the introduction. It's the responsibility of your new acquaintance to give you a darn good reason why you should.

If there comes a time when you are not comfortable before making a recommendation, just say so. Then explain that you would be happy to begin making recommendations, however, if a few criteria were met in the future.

All that said, I recommend that you reach deep and start finding ways to make more referrals. And if the situation is right, do it even for people you just met or just started working with. Too many people see relationships as pies -- where if you take a piece (in this case, introduce someone new to an existing contact) there won't be as much left over for you.

Relationships and networks are more like muscles. The more you work them, the bigger and stronger they get. Don't mistake your relationships for pies and refuse to make referrals. If you do, you'll miss out on many opportunities to help your friends and to help yourself.

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