Referrals Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
inspire confidence

Inspire Confidence to Refer You

When it comes to getting referrals from your network, the confidence others have in you is a vital component. None of them wants to risk their personal reputation by referring to a stranger. Until you inspire confidence that referring contacts to you won’t harm their reputation with their clients, associates, friends or family, you’re still a stranger. People won’t refer you if they feel you’re going to let them down.

Your profession matters to inspire confidence

The more significant the business being referred to is, the greater the risk to the referrer’s reputation. If you’re a florist, it may take only a week or two for people who try your services to recommend you on the basis of their experience with you. The risk associated with referring a florist is usually small unless you’re bidding on a large wedding that also might be your referrer’s top client. If you’re a financial advisor, it may take you six months or a year to reach the critical confidence level. However, since the stakes are higher, your referrer stands to gain more if the results are successful.

No matter what line of work you’re in, if you don’t perform well, your referrer will learn of it and you may not get another referral from that source.

Educate others about your business to inspire confidence

Don’t assume your fellow networkers understand your company or industry well enough to refer you confidently. You have to educate them and keep on educating them as long as you’re in business.

A networking group like BNI is ideal because everybody is expected to address the group at regular intervals. Make your presentation interesting and stimulating. Tell them how your product or service improves others. Each time you speak, present a new aspect of your business. Let your knowledge and eloquence persuade them that you’re very good at what you do. You will inspire confidence and your name will come to mind whenever a referral opportunity arises.

If you’re following these simple tactics, then you are well along the road to getting all the referrals from others’ networks that you deserve by inspiring confidence to refer you.

additional ways others can promote

Additional Ways Others Can Promote You

Put your networking circle to work for you with these five additional suggestions you can use to promote others to generate new business for them. When other people offer to help you spread the word about your business, have these ideas ready to go. Here are the final five examples of additional ways others can promote you and your business from my book Networking Like a Pro.

Provide you with referrals.

The kind of support you’d most like to get from your sources is, of course, referrals–names and contact information for specific individuals who need your products and services. Sources can also help by giving prospects your name and number. As the number of referrals you receive increases, so does your potential for increasing the percentage of your business generated through referrals.

Introduce you to prospects.

Your source can help you build new relationships faster by introducing you in person. She can provide you with key information about the prospect. She can also tell the prospect a few things about you, your business, how the two of you met, some of the things you and the prospect have in common, and the value of your products and services.

Follow up with referrals they have given you.

Your sources can contact prospects they referred to you to see how things went after your first meeting, answer their questions or concerns, and reassure them that you can be trusted. They can also give you valuable feedback about yourself and your products or service, information that you might not have been able to get on your own.

Serve as a sponsor.

Some of your sources may be willing to fund or sponsor a program or event you are hosting. They might let you use a meeting room, lend you equipment, authorize you to use their organization’s name, or donate money or other resources.

Sell your products and services.

Of all the kinds of support that a source can offer, the one that has the greatest immediate impact on your bottom line is selling your product or service for you. Your network member could persuade a prospect to write a check for your product, then have you mail or deliver the product to your new customer. If you do so swiftly and cordially, you may gain a new lifelong customer.

Suppose a customer you know well tells you a friend of his wants to buy your product. How should you respond? While your interest is still hot, let your friend, the customer, take your product and sell it to his friend, the prospect (if he plans to see his friend in the near future, of course).

This set of five finishes the series of 15 ways others can promote you and your business. Last week I shared the second part of this series with, “Five More Ways Others Can Promote You”. Put your networking circle to work for you with these fifteen total ways others can promote you to generate new business.


Edify Your Referral Source

Edify Your Referral Source

Here is a very important concept that is rarely discussed.  When you get a referral and you meet with the prospect, it is really important that you edify your referral source.  This is a great technique to use because you open up the discussion with the prospect by talking about an area of overlapping interest and knowledge – your mutual acquaintance.  Before you start talking about your business or even asking questions of the prospect – it is important that you edify your referral source.  Tell the prospect how much you respect the person that referred you and talk a little bit about that relationship and why it is so important to you that you give great service to anyone that this person refers.  Spend some time talking about how you both know this individual.  It is a fantastic way to warm up the referral and more importantly, it is a great opportunity to make your referral source look good for having made the referral.

Remember, the number one rule for referrals is to make your referral source look GREAT. You need to demonstrate that you know how to sell to the prospect in a way that doesn’t embarrass the source of your referral—that you’re going to consult with the prospect, discover their needs, offer solutions based on those needs, give them some options, and not force a sale if you know you can’t provide a good solution. On the other hand, if your technique is to hold the prospect hostage at his kitchen table until he breaks down and buys, your referral source will not be pleased that you’ve abused your relationship with them and damaged their relationship with your client. You may get the deal, but you’ve shut yourself off from further deals with that client—and with any future referrals from your source.

Always edify your referral source and act in a way that would make that person want to refer more people to you.

incentive program

Final Thoughts About Your Referral Incentive Program

To meet the challenge of finding the right incentive program, tap into the assistance and insights of other people.  An effective way to do this is to invite about ten people you know to meet with you.  Include a representative sample of your customers/clients/patients, business associates, partners, and friends.  Their purpose is to think up incentives you could offer to produce a larger word-of-mouth-based business. Host a lunch or dinner for the group and either take copious notes or tape-record the meeting.  Invite those who are willing to donate about two hours for your benefit (and receive a free meal, of course).

Prepare yourself, well in advance of the group meeting.  Think the subject over beforehand so you have an idea of the limits that you may need to set for an incentive program, such as cost, duration, appropriateness, etc.  Have water, note pads, a preliminary questionnaire, sample materials, a flip chart, and even a few ideas to get the ball rolling.  If you’re going to discuss a product, bring actual samples to give the group a point of reference.

Begin the actual session by clearly stating a specific problem.  Make sure your group understands that the incentive has to be geared to the group you’ve targeted.  Explain that you are looking for a variety of ideas and that you won’t make any immediate decisions.

An accountant in St. Louis thanks those who successfully refer a client to him by paying for a dinner or two at least one hour’s drive from their homes.  This approach firmly plants the accountant in the minds of his referral sources:  they won’t be able to use it right away because the distance requires that they plan for it.  As the date approaches, because it has been planned, they’ll be talking about it, and probably about the accountant.  Later, when the referring party runs into someone else who might need an accountant, who will he recommend?

I’ve heard many novel ways businesspeople reward those who send them referrals.  A female consultant sends bouquets of flowers to men.  A music store owner sends concert tickets.  A financial planner sends change purses and money clips. Please share below in the comments about how you reward others who send you referrals.

incentive program

Incentive Program for Referrals

When you offer any type of discount or novelty item as an incentive program for referrals, keep in mind what your cost would be to generate a new client from scratch. These costs include the cost of printed literature, advertisements, sales calls, telephone time, meetings, appointments, and so forth.  You can readily see that the cost of gaining a new client through a referral incentive program is almost always lower.

Incentive programs also help you sell more products or services more frequently to your existing customer base; again, these are sales that are generated at a far lower marketing cost and effort. No matter what form of incentive program you use, the fact that you offer incentives means that your potential for generating word-of-mouth business will increase.  The question is, what type of incentive will work for you?

Some health care professionals offer a free visit when a referral becomes a new patient.  Other business professionals send small gift baskets, bottles of wine, flowers, or certificates for their services or the services of other businesses in the community.  Depending on the type of product or service you offer and the relationship with your referring parties, you may also employ the following:

Incentive Program Examples

  • Free estimates, samples, or analyses
  • Additional products or services for no extra cost
  • Product or service discounts
  • Product or service time extensions
  • Extended telephone consultation privileges
  • Extended or life memberships
  • Exclusive or charter memberships
  • Group discounts
  • Extended warranties
  • Reduced costs on peripheral items or services.

Creativity is the key to any good incentive program.  People just naturally like to help each other, but especially when they know their efforts are successful.  Let your contact know when a referral he or she has made comes through, and be as creative as you can.

creative incentives

Do Creative Incentives Work?

You can greatly enhance your word-of-mouth based business by designing creative incentives for people to give you referrals.  Yet of all the key techniques for making the system work, wanting to give referral rewards bonuses to individuals who pass out your business cards and obtain new clients for your business seems to frustrate others the most.

Historically, finder’s fees or referral rewards have been used as an incentive for giving someone referrals.  Although finder’s fees can be appropriate, I don’t believe they are necessarily the best technique to employ in most situations.  Here is an excellent example of a non-monetary incentive system:

Sign of the Times

Years ago I went to my chiropractor for a routine adjustment.  Several weeks before, I had referred a friend to him who had recently been in an accident.  As I walked into the waiting room, I noticed a bulletin board that was displayed prominently on the wall.  The bulletin board read, “We would like to thank the following patients for referring someone to us last month.”

Actually, there was nothing unusual about this sign.  It had been there on each of my previous visits, except this time my name was posted on it.  I took notice and was pleased, but didn’t give it a second thought, until a month later, when I returned and saw that my name was no longer on it.  Instantly I thought, Who else can I refer to the doctor so that my name will be put back up on the board?  For the record, I did come up with another referral for the good doctor.

Something like this may not work for everyone.  But if it worked on me, I’m sure it will have a positive effect on others.  The key is to select several incentive options so as to impact as many people as possible.

Finder’s Fees

Do Finder’s Fees Work?

Historically, finder’s fees or referral rewards have been used as an incentive for giving someone referrals.  Although finder’s fees can be appropriate, I don’t believe they are necessarily the best technique to employ in most situations.  Here is an excellent example of a non-monetary incentive system:

One Realtor I met in Northern California told me that for almost six years he had offered a one-hundred-dollar finder’s fee to anyone giving him a referral that led to a listing or sale.  However, he said that in all that time he had given only about a dozen finder’s fees, so he decided to try another kind of incentive.

Living on a large parcel of land in prime wine country, he had begun growing grapes on his own vineyard.  Therefore, a thought occurred to him:  Why not take the next step?  He began processing the grapes and bottling his own special vintage wine.  After his first harvest, he had a graphic artist design a beautiful label, which he affixed to each bottle.  Instructing all his friends that he did not sell this wine, he gave it as a gift to anyone providing him with a bona fide referral.

The Realtor gave away dozens of cases in the first three years – half the time it took him to give only one dozen cash finder’s fees.  Yet each bottle of wine cost him less than ten dollars to produce.  Therefore, this special vintage wine makes him infinitely more money than giving away a handful of hundred-dollar finder’s fees. I got a call from the Realtor and he shared me this story…

Success Uncorked

“Last Friday I got a phone call from a woman I didn’t know.  Out of the blue she gave me two referrals.  As I wrote down the information, I asked her how she had heard of me.

“She said, ‘I had dinner last night at a friend’s house.  He served wine.  I took a sip.  “Wow, great wine!” I told him.  “Where did you buy it?”  “You can’t buy it,” he said.  “The only way you can get it is to give this real estate agent a referral.”

“’I have two referrals,’ she said.  ‘Can I get two bottles?’

“So I gladly sent her two bottles.  Furthermore, both referrals turned into more business, and each of them cost me only ten dollars.”

It sometimes amazes me, even now, how something as simple as a bottle of wine can be such a powerful incentive for people to give you referrals.  But the explanation is really quite simple:  because it’s special.  A bottle of wine that can’t be bought can be worth ten times what it cost to produce when traded for something as valuable as a business referral.

Summer Networking

Summer Networking Tips

The temperature is rising and so are your summer networking opportunities!

Every once in a while I hear a BNI member say that their chapter slows down during the summer months. I also know of many chapters that flourish in the summer with new members and referral growth! So why are some up and some down? It is a matter of gearing towards the season by refocusing on referrals during your networking activities? Build your business while traveling on vacation too.

What summertime networking activities are you attending? These may not seem like networking activities, however, you should still always be prepared.

  • BBQ
  • Block Parties
  • Pool parties
  • Picnics
  • Ball games or sporting events
  • Music Festivals
  • Reunions
  • Parades
  • Or just some summertime fun:
    Golf, Boating, Traveling, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping or Gardening?

Barbecue / Block Party Networking!

Whether headed to a holiday block party blowout or a more intimate birthday celebration for a colleague, barbecues are a great chance to meet friends of friends and expand your professional network.

Make the most of your family barbecue. Bring a few sample products to the barbecue to give out to family and friends. Who better to help spread the word for you? If you are so inclined, ask attendees to bring a new friend with them to the event. More than likely, some family members will show up with uninvited guests anyway. The more the merrier, right? Use these opportunities to get to know people and share what you are looking for. You never know who they know! But don’t break out in a sales pitch at a barbecue. Ever. People are there to have fun, relax and enjoy.

Pool Party  / Picnic Networking:

Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately! Listen to what everyone is saying at your summertime activities. What topics are they mentioning?

Are they complaining about their business? 
Invite them to visit your BNI chapter.

Are they excited about a wedding?
Share about those members in your chapter that are good referrals for them.

Do they talk about their home being too hot in the summer and it costs too much to cool?
Talk about your HVAC or solar member.

Do they want to remodel their home or need to move homes?
It’s Referral time!

Ball Game / Sporting Event Networking:

A great networking strategy is to get tickets to a local ball game or sporting event and invite BNI members and potential referral partners you know to introduce to each other. Whether your team wins or loses, great connections can be made!

Music Festival Networking:

The hills are alive with the sound of networking. Music brings people from all different types of professional backgrounds together networking through all of the music and dancing at a music festival will be a challenge, but it can prove to be invaluable. While each attendee might have a different background, many will have the same overall goal– utilizing networking to make meaningful connections and build their businesses. Every personal encounter is a potential opportunity for networking, so don’t overlook anyone.

Networking at Reunions:

Summertime is the time for both family reunions and class reunions. These are essentially a gathering of (potentially) dozens of people who, despite the fact that they took various different professional paths, automatically have a great deal in common and genuinely want to see one another succeed. So if you’re looking for a job, a career change, industry advice or even if you’re just hoping to network within your field, attending your reunion could be just the ticket. The question is not whether you should attend your reunion, but how you will network effectively at the reunion.

The FOUR hour “one to one” Networking Foursome!

If you are a golfer, find a fellow BNI Member who also plays golf. Set up a round of golf and you each bring a favorite golf playing client to introduce to each other as a referral source for the other BNI member. What a great way to solidify a top referral source and score a ‘hole in one” referral yourself with someone else!

If you do not play golf? Is there a summertime activity that you do that you and a fellow member can invite clients to attend? (Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping,  or Gardening)

The GOAL?

Any place you go with family, friends or strangers is a networking opportunity!

  • Bring Your Business Cards! Bring your fellow BNI members’ business cards with you to all your summertime events!
  • Remember Your Fellow Members and make a goal for one referral per event you attend!
  • Who have you met at these summertime events that you can invite to your chapter as a visitor?

Here’s to a GREAT summer in the Northern Hemisphere filled with lots of referrals! Those BNI Members south of the Equator can wait to use these tips in December or try to network on the ski slopes.

Don't be this guy

Don’t Be This Guy

A BNI Director once told me about a member who called him and said he was quitting his group because he wasn’t getting enough business.  That very same day, the Director received a call from the Membership Committee of that same chapter. He asked if they could remove that member. He wasn’t following up on the referrals he was being given by other members. Don’t be this guy!

When I hear stories like this I just shake my head in disbelief.  Referrals don’t equal more business.  Following up on referrals leads to more business. And yes, doing a good job and providing good customer service are important in order to keep getting referrals. 

If you get referrals and don’t follow up on them – you’re not going to get more business. 

When you give a referral, you give a little bit of your reputation away.  If you give a referral with a strong recommendation and then the service provider doesn’t actually follow up with the contact – the service provider not only looks bad – you look bad for giving the referral!

By the way, the group removed the member who wasn’t following up.  I heard he now has a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Repeat after me, “If you don’t follow up on referrals, you’re not going to get more business.”  And then, you might have to take a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Following up on the referrals you get – – – is it me, or does that seem incredibly obvious?  Please tell me – that’s incredibly obvious right?

Ivan’s Inner Circle

Tomorrow is the Unveiling of Ivan’s Inner Circle

Ivan’s Inner Circle is addressing both of these pain points because I will be your mentor. I will teach everything I have learned over the past 30+ years in networking and referral generation, and our technology partner at Synduit will become the only marketing software you need to build and implement your marketing plan for the entire year. I have not been this excited in years because the impact that all of us will produce together will be seismic in the world, and it will also take your franchise to the next level while supporting all of your members as well.

The more I think about this launch, the more I realize how vital this program is to the success of small business owners and franchisers. Networking, referral generation, and marketing have become somewhat of a lost art and nearly every marketing software that I have ever seen is too complicated for the everyday user.

I am ready to share Ivan’s Inner Circle with you and anyone else you decide to invite during our official unveiling tomorrow – Tuesday, March 26 at 12 pm ET (9 am PT).

If you have not done so, please make sure to register here: https://tribe.synduit.com/IvanInnerCircle0001

Inner Circle

Be a Part of my Inner Circle

Networking, referral generation, and emotional intelligence still aren’t taught in colleges and universities and nearly every marketing software system that I have ever seen is too complicated for the everyday user. For the past decade I have been thinking about building an environment where I could easily share the top lessons and skills I have acquired on networking, referral marketing, time management, and scaling a company with a select inner circle.  I am pleased to say that I found the perfect partner to make these lessons an absolute game-changer for business people.

Ivan’s Inner Circle

I am really excited, because after 10-years of contemplating this idea, my friends at Synduit have developed a program they call “Ivan’s Inner Circle” which will officially launch on Tuesday, March 26 at 12 pm ET (9 am PT) during a FREE live webinar and Q&A.

I will be your mentor. I will teach everything I have learned over the past 30+ years in networking and referral generation. Our technology partner will become the only marketing software you need to build and implement your marketing plan for the entire year. Allow me to mentor you on networking, referral generation, and marketing with the simplest marketing software for your business that you will ever find.

Who’s in Your Network?

The first webinar topic is: “Who’s in Your Network?”  It is a spin on the content from Who’s in Your Room? but it is specifically aimed at BNI members and networking. Please invite other business people you know to this experience too.

I invite you to please join me by registering here: https://tribe.synduit.com/IvanInnerCircle0001

I have not been this excited in a long time, and I am eager for you to take part in this monumental launch of “Ivan’s Inner Circle”.

Referrals

Should I Hold Referrals Hostage Until I Get Some?

I recently had someone send me the following question about referrals:

“There are people that I’ve provided referrals to which turned into good business for them.  However, I’ve never received referrals back from those people.  I fully understand that networking takes time.   I’m going to ask them for a commitment to give me referrals in return. My question for you is – should I continue to provide them with additional referrals or not?

As a result of the above question, I’ve outlined my recommended strategy to follow-up on issues like this:

When you give someone a referral, do you follow up with them to see if it resulted in actual business or not?  Find out if the referral was receptive to their contact and see if any of the referrals turned into business for your fellow member. Here are a few tips on following up on your referrals.

Sit down with the people you’ve given referrals to.

Walk through all the business you’ve given them in a way that shows you care about their success. Ask them how each and every referral (one at a time) worked out for them. Spend time with each referral and ask questions about them.  Make sure that the referrals you gave were as good as you think they were. Don’t make assumptions about them.  If they didn’t turn out as well as you thought, ask them how you could improve in giving them quality referrals.  This could be disappointing to you but it’s an important discussion to have.

For those members who really benefited from the referrals you gave them

Tell them how glad you are that you could help them.  Tell them that’s what BNI is all about – supporting one another and giving each other referrals.  Tell them that you’re really pleased that these referrals worked out. Then – and only then, remind them that sending business your way would really be helpful to you. Ask them if they have a few minutes now to talk about how they can do that.  I would guess that the majority of times, they will be receptive.

Effective networking is about being relational, not transactional. 

What goes around comes around and it might not come around from where you sent it out.  But don’t be surprised if it in fact does. You are planting seeds that will germinate with good relationships.  Work on the relationships and the business will follow.

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