If you believe that promoting yourself, in the traditional sense, is the best way to get referrals, I hate to break it to you but it’s actually not a particularly effective way of generating referrals. The thing is, just talking about yourself is not enough–you’ve got to teach people how to refer you.
You’d think that people would listen when you describe what you do and then just naturally put two and two together when they come across somebody who needs your product or service but unfortunately it doesn’t often happen that way. People need to be led down the path. You’ve got to say, “This is what I do. Here’s what you need to look for, and this is how you refer me.”
Every day we all stand in the middle of a sea of referrals. They are all around us, they happen all the time, but unless we (and our potential referral sources) are trained to pick up on them, we are oblivious to them.
The secret is to train yourself and your sources to listen for the language of referrals. Tell them, “When someone says, ‘I can’t,’ ‘I need,’ ‘I want,’ or ‘I don’t know,’ whatever she says next is a possible referral for me.” Teach your sources to listen for words or phrases expressing a specific need: “I can’t get this lawnmower engine running right,” or “I don’t know which tax form I need to use,” or “I want to remodel my dining room, but I don’t know any good contractors.” One of these could translate into a referral for you or someone you know.
Remember also that referral success arises from a system where information flows in both directions. Approach it not by promoting yourself but by learning about other people’s businesses in order to find business for them first. After that you can explain to them what you do–if they’re interested. Maintaining a balance, with an emphasis on the philosophy of Givers Gain®, is what will most efficiently and effectively bring you success in referral marketing.
Think of one person in your network whose business you are interested in knowing more about. What ways can you think of to get the ball rolling this week in regard to opening up a discussion with that person about each other’s respective businesses? Please leave your comments, thoughts, and ideas in the comment forum below. Thanks!