One of the most common networking questions I get asked is, “How do I generate referrals for other people?” Well, this same question is exactly what I was asking myself in the early ’80s when I was just starting my consulting business. I came up with a technique that had a huge impact on my ability to provide quality referrals to others–which, of course, led to me getting referrals.
I realized that I needed to be the person whom people came to if they needed a referral for anything–the “gatekeeper” of referrals . . . the “go-to guy.” So I composed a letter that I sent out to my client list several times a year. Today you could send out a quick e-mail to your database, but you should send it at least once a year as hard copy just to stand out from everybody else who’s e-mailing your clients. Here’s a sample letter:
I really believe in the process of referrals, so part of the service I provide is to be sure to refer my clients and associates to other qualified businesspeople in the community.
Attached is a list of areas in which I know very credible, ethical and outstanding professionals. If you’re looking for a professional in a specific area I’ve listed, please feel free to contact me. I will be glad to put you in touch with the people I know who provide these services.
Dr. Ivan Misner
Notice when you read this letter that I just listed professions; I didn’t list names and phone numbers. I wanted my clients to contact me so I could put the referral and the contact together–so I could build business relationships through being the go-to guy. What began to happen was that others would ask someone on my client list, “Whom do you know who does XYZ?” If they didn’t know anyone, then they would send that person to me.
The importance of becoming a gatekeeper is huge for anyone seeking to grow a business with word-of-mouth marketing. It’s a strategy that gets people not only to contact you for a referral, but also to open up a dialogue with people about what your business is all about and how you can help them. This, in turn, leads to more business with existing clients and new business with prospects.
Allow this to open the door for reciprocal sharing and giving. You’ll be amazed at how much more business you’ll find you’re able to do as a result.