Since business referrals are the principal tools and the valued currency of networking, you should make sure that yours are both timely and appropriate. Here are five important points to consider in giving a good referral:
1. Listen for needs from the people you meet. When you meet someone who expresses a need, tell her you know a person whose business can provide the product or service she’s looking for. Tell her about your business experience, if any, with that person. Give her the business card of the person you’re referring, and ask for hers.
2. Ask whether it is okay for the person or business you are referring to call. This helps determine how hot the referral is. If she says yes, fill out a referral slip (or use the back of your card) and give it to the person you referred.
3. When giving a referral to someone, be careful not to misrepresent the quality of the referral. Your honesty about the prospect will be appreciated, even if the referral is tepid.
4. Whenever you have a hot referral for someone, don’t hang onto it. Call the person you’ve referred right away; hot referrals have a way of cooling off quickly. Provide as much information as possible about the prospect, including the prospect’s name, address, phone number, occupation, and any relevant information about the product or service the prospect is looking for.
5. Avoid giving bad referrals, such as:
- News about a meeting for business owners, a chamber mixer, or any other business meeting. This is an announcement, and potentially good information to have, but not a referral.
- Providing someone with a better source for obtaining products. Again, this is good information for someone, but not a business referral.
- Giving the same referral to three different people in the same profession.
- Referring someone to a prospect without telling the prospect that you have done so.
- Giving someone a referral but telling him or her not to use your name with the prospect.
These tips will certainly help you get and stay on the right track in regard to giving referrals and if you have additional referral-giving tips to share, I’d love to hear them. Please post your tips in the comment forum below. Thanks!