How to Uncover Referral Opportunities by Reading the Newspaper

Most people read the newspaper to gain insight into local and world events and news–and that’s all.  I’m suggesting that you try reading the paper a little differently–to look for opportunities for referrals.

Photo courtesy of njaj at

Photo courtesy of njaj at

Pick up your local newspaper and scan the front page. Turn to the local section, then the business news, and then the lifestyle section. The paper is teeming with opportunities for you to act as a gatekeeper for the people in your network. Every page presents problems or significant issues of one kind or another.

What are people saying? Who is talking about problems or changes in her company or industry?  What is happening that could have a direct impact on you or someone in your network?  Who is in need of the services of someone you know?  Where are there networking opportunities for you and your marketing team?

So why not start out by reading the paper this week with referral intent for two people in your network?  Find each of them an opportunity or a lead that they might capitalize on through their network.  Then find your own business a lead or two on which you can capitalize, and begin to ask your network for help in making the connection for you.

Clearly, these are more “leads” than actual “referrals.” However, there’s nothing wrong with telling a business associate about the details you just read about relating to a new company moving into town.  It’s good to show your referral partners you are looking out for them and–you never know–it could turn into something good.

Try this strategy out and then please come back and leave a comment to let me know how it worked out–I’m very interested to see what happens!

5 thoughts on “How to Uncover Referral Opportunities by Reading the Newspaper

  1. You’re so right on this, Ivan. Just this week I came upon a magazine popular here in NJ, and saw two advertorials written by and featuring two Monmouth County businesswomen. Their backgrounds intrigued me, and I was interested in learning a little more about them and, perhaps, to even send them an invitation to invite them to our chapter’s BNI meeting. Lo and behold, BOTH of them had problems with their web site. One url addressed referred me to a “this domain is available” kind of message, and the other hadn’t, apparently, been updated since May of 2014 because that was the last blog written. Anyway, I pulled out both those full-page advertorials and gave it to the web designer in our chapter, Mike Bellina of Migman Media, so he could reach out to them to introduce himself.

    Additionally, like many towns and communities, we have neighborhood-specific newspapers that are distributed free to homeowners. They all have “Police Blotter” sections in them, those pages where local arrests for all kinds of things are reported to the community, with the names of those arrested, the arresting officers, etc. I always give that page a once-over to see if I recognize the names of any of the arrested (especially in the summer months when, unfortunately, too many teenagers and young adults here at the Jersey Shore get a little out of hand with drinking and are arrested for driving while intoxicated) and, if I did, I would reach out to them (or their parents) and, hopefully, connect them with the litigation attorney in our chapter.

  2. This is part of how we built our BNI chapter as members. Always be looking for ways to refer to members in a variety of ways. From the time we first joined BNI little did we know that years later we would have the opportunity to become Executive Directors of a region. That would not have happened if we had not focused on how to help others grow their business when we were members. Changed our lives and helped change the lives of others. Happy 30 years BNI!

  3. Ivan, This is a good reminder of ways to build your contacts outside of BNI and to keep yourself aware of current local happenings. Just this past weekend I was scanning our local paper and came across a special section on Weddings and Brides. SO guess what…. I am bringing that into our BNI meeting as an example for our Hospitality sphere to reach out and grow. I found that often it is being aware of such sources that we can do others a lot of good by reaching out to them.Another technique is to look t bulletin boards that post local service business cards–like at a restaurant or diner.

  4. Great thought. It addresses the idea of “How do I find referrals for …” Referrals for your BNI partners don’t necessarily just fall into your lap. It takes some work on your part to find these referrals, jut like it takes some work on your part to find opportunities for your own business. The difference is, if all you’re dong is casting your net hoping to catch a bass, and all you catch is a catfish, you throw it back unless you happen to know someone who’s also casting a net looking for catfish. My BNI group gives me twenty plus nets constantly casting out looking for referrals for me, and I can find uses for twenty plus different potential referrals my net might catch.
    For instance, I was at a wedding reception last month talking to another guest. After talking for some time, he mentioned he was getting ready to sell his rental home which he was tired of having to fix up and he wondered if he should redo the flooring. The old me would have jumped on the opportunity to sell him some flooring, but the new me, the BNI me, talked to him about the advantage of getting a realtor involved. I told him how easy it would be to spend unnecessary money on the house, or to price it wrong, leaving money on the table, or not even selling it. By the end of the conversation he was excited about meeting with the realtor I knew, and I set up the meeting right then. The realtor managed to sell he house for him in less than thirty days at a price far higher than he thought he would get.
    I did end up replacing some of the flooring, so it was a win for everyone involved.

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