Ask a Favor

When to Ask a Favor (classic video)

When is the right time to ask a favor? Building a relationship takes time, and cashing in your relationship capital before it has earned enough interest can be devastating.

The following video is classic rebroadcast of my “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by, where I expand on catch phrases I have used frequently over the years. Originally published on March 30, 2016.

In this video, I discuss how to identify and prepare for the appropriate time to ask for a favor within the context of a business relationship. Social capital is a key factor when it comes to asking for favors from others.

Most of us have been in a situation where someone has asked for a favor before the social capital to make that kind of request. If you want to amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. Social capital works the same way. You have to invest before you can withdraw.

Throughout my career, I have had a huge number of folks come to me and ask me to promote something for them. The thing is the majority of those who contacted me had never even met me, had never had a conversation with me. If they did, they met me once and we had the briefest of conversations. They never invested in the relationship and yet they wanted a withdrawal from the relationship.

You may be shocked at the level of personal knowledge required for a deep referral relationship. You may want to argue that referrals should be all about business. I completely disagree. It takes a lot to develop this type of relationship. Those who do will certainly succeed at building a business from referrals.

When Is It Appropriate to Ask for a Favor?

So the answer to this question of when should you ask for a favor, before you ask for a withdrawal, make sure you make an investment and build a deep referral relationship.

The Five Levels of a Referral

The Five Levels of a Referral

A referral is a referral, right?   Well, not so much.  Once a referral source has given you the name of a person to call, what more could you hope for? Actually, there’s quite a bit more you can expect from referrals that have been properly developed by their sources.  Referrals come in several different shades. I’ve identified the five levels of a referral. They vary in quality according to how much involvement your referral source has invested in preparing the referral for you. The more time and effort your source puts into qualifying, educating, and encouraging the prospect before you become involved, the higher the quality and level of that referral. Conversely, if your referral source only passes an interested prospect’s name to you, most of the work of converting that prospect into a customer falls on you. The likelihood of a successful conversion diminishes significantly.

Now let’s cover the five levels of referrals, ranging from nothing but a name and contact information to the “Full Monty” (which despite the movie, actually means to do everything possible).  We call this the Referral Continuum and we’ve ranked the levels of the continuum in order of ascending quality.

Please note that this is a “referral” continuum, not a “leads” continuum.  All of these levels are true referrals, not leads (including the first one).  The person giving the referral knows both parties and is recommending the person providing the product or service to the person who is receiving the product or service.

Note that each level below builds upon the previous.  So a Level 2 referral includes much of what is included in a Level 1 referral.  A Level 3 referral includes much of what is in a Level 1 and 2 referral etc. etc.

Level 1:       Name and contact information.

Your referral source has recommended you to someone and given them your contact information.  They have done just enough work to provide you with a phone number, address, email, or some other way of contacting the prospect and that prospect knows you might contact them.    If the prospect is expecting your call, this is a legitimate referral, it’s just not a high-level referral.  That said, we’d take this over a “cold-call” any day of the week!

Level 2:       Supplementary material.

In addition to the recommendation they gave, the referral source provided either your marketing literature, website information, or other content to the prospect for their review.  This additional information can positively influence the prospect by providing more material for them to review in addition to their verbal reference.

Level 3:       Share experience.

In addition to some or all of the items above, the referral source gave a personal written testimonial or a strong verbal recommendation about you to the prospect.  They spent time talking to the prospect about their experience working with you or their understanding of other people’s experience in working with you.  This is the first level of referral that truly involves a modicum of effort on the part of your referral source.  It usually includes background information and a description of your product or service as filtered through the lens of the referral source.  Adding the element of promotion increases the effectiveness of your referral source’s effort on your behalf. Promotion is advocacy—an outright recommendation of your product or service with a description of its features and benefits.

Level 4:       Introductory call and/or arrange a meeting.

This is another level up in terms of effort from the referral source. They phone on your behalf and arranges a phone or in-person meeting between you and the prospect. This is in addition to many of the things outlined above. When your referral source arranges a call or a meeting between the two of you, they move beyond the role of a promoter and move into the role of a connector or facilitator.  This takes effort and is the sign of a committed referral partner who you should definitely support in return.

Level 5:       In-person introduction and promotion.

At this level, your referral source is making a serious commitment of time and energy in support of your business.  They haven’t just arranged a meeting, they participate in the meeting.  At this level, your referral source has done the work of assessing the need a prospect may have for your product or service. They have gauged the prospect’s interest in learning more about it. They share this information, This enables you to tailor your products or services to emphasize the specific benefits that the prospect is looking for.

This level is practically a “closed deal.”  Generally, a level 5 referral means, the business is nearly closed before you even contact the prospect, solely on the strength of your referral source’s efforts. Not much is required from you except to answer some questions and deliver the product or service and collect the payment.  People who give you Level 5 referrals are prized referral partners.  Make sure to treat them as such.  You should have a reciprocal relationship with these individuals.  They are worth their weight in referral gold.

referral continium

The Referral Continuum shows the amount of work you must do to close a prospect, based on the level of the referral. If you’re given a Level 1 referral, you have to do 95 percent of the work to close. This is not much better than other marketing efforts. On the other hand, if you get a Level 4 or 5 referral, then the person giving you the referral has already done most of the work for you. It’s easier for your referral source to edify you than it is for you because your source already has a relationship of trust with your prospect. For this reason, it’s important for you to do a superb job in fulfilling that referral so your referrer will get great feedback and want to refer you again. The referral giver is, in essence, lending you his or her credibility; this is not something to be taken lightly.

The Networking Scorecard

Of course, the effectiveness of your referral network in providing you with quality referrals depends on the amount of work you do to develop your sources. There are many ways to encourage them to become active and enthusiastic members of your marketing team. The Networking Scorecard from Networking Like a Pro 2nd Edition will enable you to manually track the work you are doing to develop your network.  However, you can also download a free app of The Networking Scorecard at Use this scorecard to keep a weekly record of your networking efforts and the quality of referrals you receive. You’ll begin to see the relationship between the two.


Referral Coincidence

When it comes to networking, “luck” is where persistence meets opportunity.  There is no coincidence about repeat referrals.  It comes because every day you execute the activities relating to building referral relationships.  Although it can’t be measured as easily as tracking cold-call ratios – the results are dramatic and almost never coincidental.

A misconception occurs when someone focuses on the referral rather than on the relationship that produced the referral. Networking is not about luck, it’s about relationships. No one person is likely to turn your business around. However, by building relationships with a diverse group of business professionals over time, they can make a difference together.

Your networking results are an indication that the system of building relationships is working. Not that these referrals were basically coincidences. It is no more coincidental that you receive referrals from the people in your network than it is that a fisherman casting a net catches fish. The fisherman concentrates on his action of casting the net, not the individual path of one of the fishes that swam into it. If he did base his decision on that one random fish he would quickly come to the conclusion that it was a coincidence.

Chris’ Story

In this video, I share a story about a referral coincidence.


Standing in The Middle of Referrals

Referrals are all around us. Are you paying attention?

Watch the video to see why I have a photo of a crying baby with this blog.

Referrals are all around us, it’s just that we’re not paying enough attention to what’s going on in order to identify them.  You see, there’s a part of our brain that’s called the Reticular Activating System.  It can be described as a filter between our conscious and our subconscious mind. Your subconscious screens out things you determine that aren’t important and it alerts you about things you think are important. Therefore, understanding how it works can be a great tool to recognize the daily referral opportunities surrounding us.

Watch the video now to learn not only about the Reticular Activating System but also about another powerful tool which I call the “Language of Referrals”.  After watching the video, you will likely begin to remember times when your Reticular Activating System was in full effect. However, you just didn’t realize it at the time.  You may also remember instances where you’ve clearly heard the language of referrals in conversations with people.

I’d really love to hear about your referrals experience with one or both of these things so please share your story/stories in the comment forum below.  Thanks!



referral source

Why Clients are not your best referral source

Clients are often thought to be your best potential referral source.  However, Tiffanie Kellog shares why they are not in this guest video blog.

About Tiffanie Kellog

For more information on Tiffanie Kellog, please visit her website at

Tiffanie Kellog is a professional speaker, coach, and trainer with Asentiv, and is co-owner of a business with her husband.  Therefore, Tiffanie has helped entrepreneurs over the years make more money while saving time. Thus they can have more fun. She is dedicated to helping others make more money in less time.

To contact Tiffanie, call her at 813-263-9690 or email at

referral coincidence

Referral Coincidence?

In this video, I share a story about a referral coincidence.

A misconception occurs when someone focuses on the referral rather than on the relationship that produced the referral. Understand the process of building relationships. It’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important, but the ones that you turn into lasting relationships. You’ll always get better results trying to deepen relationships with people you already know than starting relationships with strangers.

Luck is where persistence meets opportunity.

Networking is not about luck, it’s about relationships. No one person is likely to turn your business around, but together, over a long time, they can make a difference.

Click here to watch this video


Behavioral Profiles

Understanding Behavioral Profiles

I’m looking forward to presenting “Behavioral Styles in Networking” next week on Tuesday, March 14, 2017 from Noon to 1pm EASTERN DAYLIGHT TIME as part of @BNI – The World’s Leading Referral Organization’s #BusinessBuilders webinar series.

Register here:

Understanding behavioral profiles is essentially about understanding the four different styles of behavior when looking at individuals.  It  is an excellent way to gain knowledge about how to craft your sales and reporting program to the style of communication most comfortable to the client as well as how to best connect with your fellow networkers.  All customers and all networkers like to be communicated with in a manner that is most familiar to them, and knowing their personality profiles/behavioral styles helps you customize a sales or networking approach for each unique individual.


In the book Room Full of Referrals which I co-wrote with Dr. Tony Alessandra and Dawn Lyons, we offer insight into the following four different behavioral styles:

Go-Getters: (Driven, Bold, Decisive, Strong Desire to Lead)

Promoters:   (Energetic, Outgoing, Fun-Loving, Positive, Talkative)

Nurturers:   (Patient, Helpful, Understanding, Sentimental, Reserved)

Examiners:   (Effective, Efficient, Thorough, Research-Oriented)

If you pay careful attention to the behavioral characteristics of others, you will improve how you communicate with them effectively by adapting to their style.

Join me on my webinar next week to learn more about these traits.



10 Shades of a Referral by Tiffanie Kellog

Guest Video Blog:

Tiffanie Kellog, a trainer with Asentiv and author of 4 1/2 Networking Mistakes, share the Ten shades of a referral.

The higher the shade of referral, the better the chances that you more likely to close the business for someone else.

What shade of referrals are you passing to others?
What is the lowest shade you are willing to take from someone?

Shawn Yesner and Tiffanie Kellog

Tips About Asking for Referrals by Tiffanie Kellog and Shawn Yesner

Guest Video Blog:

Tiffanie Kellog, a trainer with Asentiv and author of 4 1/2 Networking Mistakes, interviews Shawn Yesner of Yesner Law in Tampa, FL about asking for referrals.

Are you wondering why you are not getting referrals?
You need to be specific to become terrific. Just like when you order your favorite soda.

Click here to watch the video

Your Business is Not an Ugly Baby

When was the last time you heard someone say, “Wow, your baby sure is ugly!” If they’re smart, probably never.

How about this one? “Your clothing, marketing message and overall business image are not referable?” Ouch.

We occasionally think this about people we meet, but will rarely say it out loud. Which is why you are responsible for making sure your business, your “baby”, is in the right condition for receiving referrals.

I’ve seen thousands of people join networking groups and focus heavily on building their network but forget to take a good, hard look in the mirror, both at your self and image and your businesses. I’m challenging you to make an honest appraisal of yourself and your business and ask, “Am I worthy of business referrals?” If you’re not sure how to start, here are five ways to get you going.

 Five ways to help you examine your personal brand.

1. Define your Emotional Charged Connection (ECC): If you are asked seven times this week, “What do you do for a living?” do you respond with seven different answers? Your marketing message should be clear, concise and consistent; it should also tug at the heart strings a bit and have some ECC. This combination will leave a lasting impression and, most importantly, give others a clear way of explaining your message to others.

2. Walk your talk. Do what you say in less time than promised. Be on time for meetings, don’t check your phone while others are talking to you–and follow up with everyone and everything.

3. Dress for success: If you’re a mechanic and you wear a three piece suit to a business meeting, one might assume you’ve just come from court. Whatever people in your profession typically wear–uniform, polo shirt and khakis, suit and tie, dress and heels–just be sure to wear it well. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new wardrobe, but make sure what you wear is clean, wrinkle-free and tucked in. You want to look sharp, because your first impression when you walk into a meeting is a lasting one. If you’re messy or too casual, people might assume you have the same attitude about your business. board man

4. Be self-aware: Eighty percent of someone’s perception of you are based on your nonverbal cues, including eye contact, facial expressions and mannerisms. Ask someone you trust to simulate a meeting or pitch with you and have them point out what they think is working–and what’s not.

5. Keep your social media presence professional: It’s vital to remember that your professional image exists on and offline. That’s not say you can share a funny joke or have fun on social media, but be aware that people are judging you by your online behavior. Two of every three posts should be about something personal, but don’t make controversial statements or divulge every intimate detail about your life. In this digital age, if you are what you say, you are also what you post.

Your baby is not ugly, it’s beautiful. Your business image is not ugly, it’s also beautiful and worthy of referrals. But nothing else will matter unless our personal brand and referability are in order. After all, we are our biggest advertisement.

Lifelong Learning: Lessons in Leadership


As many of you know, I was given the fantastic opportunity to spend a few days with John Maxwell at his Leadership Conference in Orlando Florida last week. (You can read my initial reaction to winning the Leadership award here.)


John shared a story that I thought was a great networking lesson, and it’s something I want to share with all of you.

He began his story when he was a very young pastor in the 1970s. He wanted to learn and grow in his field and he decided that he would try to interview ten of the most successful pastors from across the country. Being a thoughtful man, John realized that their time was valuable and he wanted to pay for it-but at the time, he only made $4,200 a year in salary.

John reached out to the ten pastors he wanted to seek advice from and offered them $100 each for less than an hour of their time to help mentor him in his journey. $100 each doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but multiplied by ten people that equaled almost one quarter of his annual income! But John felt that it was important to show them that he didn’t want something for nothing and would truly value their mentorship.

He went on to explain that only two people took him up on his request. He met with the two pastors, asked his questions, and received great information and took copious notes. Before he left each of them, he asked if they knew any of the eight remaining people on his list. He needed a referral!

Both of them new many of the remaining pastors, so John asked if they would be kind enough to call some of the other eight and make a personal introduction. Both men happily did so. After a short time, John was able to meet with all ten pastors because of the introductions that these two pastors made.

John obtained fantastic insights which enabled him to achieve many of his goals as a young man, and he did it through referral networking.

There were many lessons to be learned in this story, but here’s some of the ones that I got out of it:

  1. Don’t expect something for nothing. Asking for favors from people you don’t know, just doesn’t work well.
  2. Be prepared. Have well-thought out questions.
  3. Take notes and follow the advice.
  4. Most importantly, he asked these individuals if they felt this was worth their time. It was only after they said yes, that he asked for an introduction to the rest of the people on the list.

This last one is an important example of the referral process. He showed up prepared, stuck to the time he promised, did a good job and THEN asked for a laser specific referral if, and only if, they felt that the meeting was worth their time. John was successful because he knew how to be a professional, make a good impression, and then, and only then, ask for the referral.

Great story John.


Resist Coin-Operated Networking

When networking, do you only talk to those who can give you the most in return? Do you only give your business card to someone who you will bring you a ton of referrals? Do you only give referrals if you know you’ll get them in return?

If this sounds like you, you are doing it all wrong. Networking is not a vending machine. You don’t put in coins into the machine and get a candy bar every time–sometimes, you have to wait for your candy.

This mentality is called “transactional networking,” which is going to get you nowhere quickly in the world of referral networking. The “I will give you this, now you have to give me that,” point of view is only going to leave you sorely disappointed.

Instead, the proper mindset is, “Let me help you. I’ve got some ideas. I have a referral for you.” Over time, they’ll give it back you when the opportunity arises. This mentality is called “relational.” Keeping score or holding a referral back because you haven’t received one in return won’t always work, but thinking about giving before getting and making it the foundation of your business reputation, will.

Let’s take a closer look. If you’re keeping score and have given two referrals, but only received one in return, you might be a little disappointed. But consider the value of those referrals. You can’t simply go by the numbers. Two referrals to a florist are vastly different than two referrals to a real estate agent. By the same token, we don’t think it’s realistic to expect $1,000 worth of referrals from someone just because you passed them referrals of that amount.

By applying the Givers Gain philosophy, you will make your referral relationships relational rather than transactional and find success in this relationship. Let’s say there’s somebody you don’t know well, but you want to know that person better and build a referral relationship. You think this person may be able to help you and you know you can help them. You don’t start a referral relationship by asking them to sign a contract that for every referral you give him, he has to give you one in return! The way to start the process is to give.

I understand the hesitation to give referrals to someone you don’t know well–but giving doesn’t have to start with a referral. It can start with a conversation. If you’re having a conversation with a possible referral partner and they express a problem they may be having, you might say, “You know, I just read a great article on that. I’ll email it to you.” You hand them your business card with your email address on it, they do the same and –voila! A connection is made through giving.

Remember, networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about cultivating relationships.

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