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.