Getting to the Referral Stage with a New Contact

People often ask me how to move a relationship with someone they just met to the point where the new contact feels comfortable passing them a referral.

I always say that the best way to get to this next referral-passing stage depends in part on how you came into contact with a person in the first place.  Let’s say you met while giving a brief presentation to a group of people who are in your target market.  Assuming you did a good job, then you absolutely have the possibility of receiving a referral, even though you just met.  Why? Because the presentation moved you from visibility to credibility in the new contact’s mind and now they’re probably willing to risk their reputation and recommend you to someone they know.

The same thing is true when you’re out networking.  If you have a good conversation with someone and truly add value to the conversation, then moving from visibility to credibility isn’t that difficult, and you’ll be in great shape for getting some referral-based business.  What’s more, it’s not terribly important whether the person is someone you might do business with directly.  Even if your businesses don’t match up, the other person might have information that’s useful or might know other people you’d like to get in contact with.  It’s often worthwhile to develop a networking relationship with people who have little in common with you because they can bring an entirely new network into contact with yours and broaden your business horizons.

Just bear in mind that even if there is a strong possibility that you’re going to do business with this new contact, it’s probably not going to happen there at the networking event, where conversations last anywhere from an eye-blink three minutes to a long-winded seven.  Instant business is not likely to be had.  But if you follow up with a quick note a few days later, you can make some one-to-one time and come up with ways the two of you can help each other.  That meeting is where you’ll have your best opportunity for a quick referral.

What has your experience been with moving to the referral stage with new contacts–do you have a tactic that seems to be particularly effective?  If so, please share it in the comments section.


6 thoughts on “Getting to the Referral Stage with a New Contact

  1. Thanks again for a refreshing discussion. My approach to develop the relationship is underpinned by the principle that “people refer business and opportunities to people who they know and trust”. They give leads to others. So what do I do? I learn more about them and their network to see how I can become helpful in their lives, then I share the concept of mutually beneficial relationships to bridge the expectation gap, this is followed by teaching them who to refer to me. What do I mean by teaching: telling success stories, give them an experience etc. They then become a part of my “Keep In Touch Programme”

  2. I have been asking my new contacts if they could benefit from someone I already have a relationship with that could possibly be a great referral source for them and introduce them instead of talking about how I can help them with my services.

  3. Disclaimer: These are not my ideas. Without doing the actual research, I expect that most, if not all of them can be attributed to Dr. Ivan Misner.

    I approach networking as a wonderful adventure. My mission in networking is to discover how I can help someone to accomplish something important to them. I practice different techniques and pay close attention to what does and what does not work, for me. I’m now well aware that my own personality and experience come into play with different networking techniques.
    Since I’m in the business of trouble shooting and problem solving, when I meet someone for the first time, I make a point of working this question into the conversation, “What’s the biggest challenge you’re facing?” Nine times out of ten the answer is, “Money.” When it is, I chuckle softly and respond, “We’ll come back to that, what’s the second biggest challenge?” Usually, the second biggest challenge presents an opportunity for me to immediately help them to connect with someone whom I know and trust, who can solve the second biggest problem in their life, right away!
    After that, we go back to their biggest problem, money. If they are not in business and are out of a job, I refer them to my friends who will help them to find a job, at no charge. Regardless, I will find a way to connect them with someone to help them solve their money problems.
    If they are a business professional, which I’ve learned by asking “Whattaya do?” I ask them if referrals would help to solve their money problems. So far, the answer has always been, “Yes!” I then, correctly invite them to the next meeting of the largest and most successful business referral and networking organization in the world – BNI.
    Offering real solutions to the one or two biggest problems in someone’s life without expecting anything in return has been an excellent way to move through credibility to profitability in one brief conversation.
    I must point out that practice is the second most important part of this equation. The most important part is to always expect nothing in return because, only then does it comes back many, many times over.

  4. Thanks for, as always, keeping it simple and to the point. Few people realize that the credibility factor plays such a huge part in creating a referral or sale. And the element that people don’t want to look at at all? TIME. It takes time and effort to create credibility, but most people want a quick fix. And right now, my heart goes out to people who not only WANT a quick fix or sale, but NEED it. In my events, I have to reiterate over and over – networking is marketing, NOT sales. And I have to take a heaping spoonful of compassion for the folks who are being pushy because they don’t know better, and are in a position where they are fighting to pay their bills. Interesting times…

  5. Presence and active listening for how I can help is what I do and it has never failed me. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about the weather or business. My main interest is the other person not what they are doing for living this comes always second. The energy and what lies within which is not orally talked about. Every person has it’s own energy which they are sending and very few are aware about. I notice quite fast if a person is home or not and this have nothing to do with the techniques they are using.

  6. I often find just flat out asking for one in return for reciprocation works. Sometimes being direct and to the point is appreciated in this multitask world we live in.

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