How are you viewed in your personal and professional networks? Are you perceived as a person of action, or merely of words? The words we say and the actions we take are part of building credibility with our referral partners. A successful relationship, whether a personal or a business relationship, evolves over time. We go from being aware of each other – visibility, to being reliable and worthy of confidence – credibility.
I have found that there are three types of referral givers in business networking groups. Most professionals and entrepreneurs have heard the saying, “Under promise and over deliver,” and many of them operate with that attitude. There are also those who do the opposite; they overpromise and underdeliver. And then there are those who don’t promise at all, they just deliver.
Three Types of Referral Givers
- Overpromise, underdeliver
Often, these people have a challenge with their credibility. They are always “working on something”, and yet they seldom bring any closed business to the table. They promise to make connections and introductions but never get around to doing so. They don’t follow through and, consequently, they often leave their referral partners in the lurch. Their words are empty promises.Here are two reasons why someone may talk a good game without doing what they said they would.- Some people just talk too much and never truly intend to do anything about it.
– Some people are anxious and, while trying to help, they overcommit themselves.Whatever the reason, they are not helping because they are not following through. Other people judge them on their behavior and determine that they are someone who does not keep their promises, which hurts their credibility among their peers.
- Underpromise, overdeliver
These are excellent referral partners to have in your network because they ask the right questions to get the best information to learn how to provide business referrals and opportunities for others. They may say something like, “I understand that you’re looking for a referral, however I need a bit more information. I have someone in mind who may be a good connection for you. I’ll contact them and keep you updated.”These referral partners don’t make guarantees or oversell the possibilities of a referral. Along with underpromising what they are going to do, they also maintain open and frequent communication about the potential referral with the members of their network.
- Don’t promise, just deliver
Master networkers invest the time to build deep relationships. They take notes about people’s referral needs; they learn their networking partners’ target markets and how to talk about their businesses.Master networkers don’t talk about what they are going to do because they are busy formulating a plan based on everything they’ve learned. They work quietly behind the scenes to provide high-level referrals and ultimately closed business for others.The “don’t promise, just deliver” networkers often surprise others in the best possible way by giving a great referral that has the prospect ready and willing for a conversation about buying the product or service. They tell their referral partner, “Someone is waiting to talk to you. Here’s why and this is the best way to contact them.”
Be a Better Referral Partner
Here are some suggestions to become a better referral partner in your business network.
~ Listen to others, keeping a sincere desire to help them grow their business.
~ Take notes when they talk about their target market and how their product or service helps their customers.
~ Have regular one-to-one meetings with those in your network so you become familiar with different aspects of their company.
~ Understand the pertinent jargon of their industry so you will recognize it when you hear it, which can help you identify a good referral for them.
My recommendation for successful business networking is to move from “Overpromise, underdeliver” to “Underpromise, overdeliver” to “Don’t promise, just deliver!”
These are the people who have built their credibility by the words they say and the actions they take. They don’t make promises. They just deliver.
I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you have a tip that has made you a better referral partner?