Much of what I write about networking and referrals emphasizes the circuitous, sometimes mysterious nature of referral networking. In a deep, broad-based, mature referral network, where you spend a lot of time doing good things for others without looking for a direct reward, and where the good that you do winds its way through the system and eventually comes back to you in the form of referrals, it may seem odd to describe referral networking as a system. But that’s what it is, and when it comes to the actions of generating, developing, and closing a business deal through a referral, there is a well defined, systematic process.
What is a referral? It’s not as simple as it’s sometimes made out to be. We leave college and go into business knowing little about referrals, because referral marketing is rarely part of the curriculum. We know what a great thing it is to get a referral, because it generally means lucrative business with a reliable client. We often think of it simply as a connection to someone we can call on to do business with or, if it’s not our kind of business, someone we can refer to someone else.
We understand that referrals are the best kind of business. What we don’t understand is how to make them happen when we want them and, when they come in, how to get the best results from them and make them last. The referral process is a system that has a lot of feedback built into it. If you follow it for every referral, you will get predictable results: more closed business deals and a never-ending supply of referrals.
I have broken the referral process down into eight easy steps:
- Step 1–Your Source Discovers a Referral
- Step 2–Research the Referral
- Step 3–Check Back In With Your Referral Source
- Step 4–Meet With the Referral
- Step 5–Report Back to Your Source
- Step 6–Your Source Gets Feedback from the Referral
- Step 7–Your Source Reports Back to You
- Step 8–Close the Deal
I’ll be breaking these steps down in detail in several different blog entries over the coming weeks so if you’re interested in getting specific guidance on how to execute each step in the referral process, be sure to check back in weekly.