Tag Archives: referrals

Painting a Better Picture of Networking

I live in a historic, well really just old, house. It was built in 1920 and challenges us weekly with quirky things that are the result of many different people living and working on this house over the years. This summer I decided that I wanted to paint the exterior of my abode, so I spent some time with my husband picking out colors and trying them on for size. We eventually landed on a combo that we thought served our Craftsman-style home well.

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Good prep work is required to make sure the paint, or a referral, will stick.

With the colors all picked out, I was ready to paint. Just hand me a brush!

But, like the networking lessons I have learned in BNI, I quickly realized that a little prep work would go a long way toward making my paint stick. Like prepping for painting, prepping a referral can make all the difference:

  1.  Tools: Now is the time, before you start any actual work, to assemble all the tools you may need to do the work, such as business cards or brochures.
  2. Clean: Do a little ‘rolodex” housekeeping and make sure you have the most accurate and up-to-date info on anyone you plan on referring.
  3. Fill: Make sure that any possible referral holes are filled by having a one-to-one meeting with your fellow BNI member before you refer them.
  4. Sand: Knock off any rough edges or sticky spots during the meeting. Ask them to educate you on how to best refer them. For example some businesses may have set rates that they want you to share, while others simply want a warm introduction.

After making the referral (or painting), it simply makes sense to go back and check your work. Were there any areas missed? Does something need to be gone over again? Making sure to check in with both parties is a sure-fire way to make your referral stick.





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Filed under BNI, Marketing, PR, referrals, Uncategorized

Ripen Your Referrals Before Serving Them Up

The other day I bought an avocado at the store.  I carefully selected one that looked fairly ripe as I was planning to eat it soon.  A few days later I cut that avocado open for dinner confident that it would be perfect with our Mexican dinner.

Alas, it was still hard inside, even though from the outside it looked fully ripe.  I went ahead and served half of it with our meal, but it was very unsatisfying and didn’t have the creamy taste or texture that we love.

Even if they look ripe on the outside, sometimes they aren't.

Even if they look ripe on the outside, sometimes they aren’t.

As I thought about it, I realized it was a lot like making a good referral.  We oh so carefully select the exact right person to refer.  Then, when the time is ripe, we pass along the name, the phone number and some info about the situation to our referral partner.   Because we have taken a little extra time and attention, we assume that the referral is perfect.

But sometimes, like my avocado, looks are deceiving and more time is required to fully ripen the referral. What can we do to help serve up ripe referrals every time?

  1. Make sure you understand the specific needs of the referee. Use basic interview skills to solicit their exact needs.  What? Where? and Why? questions are your best friends.
  2. Know the scope of your referral partner’s services or products.  One-to-ones and GAINS profiles can make all the difference here.
  3. Perform the referral introduction in person if at all possible.  Not only does that allow you to add credibility to your referral, it also gives you a chance to start the new referral relationship off on the right foot.  If you can’t do it in person, then perform introductions over the phone then send an email to both parties with contact info included.
  4. Lastly, follow-up with both parties within a week of giving the referral. This is your chance to ensure that your referral is ripe and tasty for everyone involved.

Follow these four simple tips for the ripest referrals possible and start serving up results!

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Filed under Marketing

Looking for Business in All the Right Places: LinkedIn Rules

My last post was about finding that delicate balance between friends and foes on your Facebook page.  Today I want to address my personal rules for who I connect to on LinkedIn.  Again, these are my rules, feel free to create your own or leave (nice) comments on mine.

The Business of LinkedIn

I consider LinkedIn my online business persona and as such, I am a little more careful about what I say and do there.  Following one of my mentor’s pieces of advice about dinner parties, I generally avoid discussing any of the “Big Three” topics on LinkedIn:  Politics, Religion & Medical Procedures (especially Autopsies, you’d be surprised how often that comes up at our house). While I am certainly not opposed to sharing my views on any of these items, they a) just seem very personal and b) are a good way to turn a prospect off.  I figure that my professional competency should stand on its own and not be cluttered by my personal views which, while they may be flawed, are my own.

In terms of who I will connect to, I take a little broader based approach than I do on Facebook. I’m willing to connect to you if I have personally met you and if I trust you and your business. By being linked to someone in the business world, you are borrowing a little bit of their credibility and vice versa, so you want to be confident that they are someone who you can see doing business with. I have, on occasion, un-linked myself from someone who I discovered had business practices I could not support.  But in general, I will always default to assuming that people are being ethical businesspeople until proven otherwise.

I certainly know people who will connect with anyone, and that is a choice many people make.  While I think it can dilute the quality of their referrals and connections, I can understand why someone in the public eye (best-selling authors, top-level speakers and other highly visible folks) would adopt an “all-in” approach. Not only does it make sense from a time management perspective, it also allows them far greater reach.

It also helps to get over the “I need to have a certain number of friends/connections/links to be important” mentality. We are all a little vain and I certainly went through a phase where I thought I had to have a certain number of online contacts to be successful, but I think admitting it was probably the most important step to getting past it.

On the other hand, I will tell you that in business, from a quantifiable results perspective, I do think you need to have about 250 folks that you know, like and trust in order to keep the business fires burning.  That doesn’t always translate into online links or friends, but someone doesn’t have to embrace social media to be a valuable referral partner. If you have a lot more links than that, it’s fine, but it is hard to keep up close contact with many more than that, so you may have to prioritize.

Next week we’ll talk about my alter ego on Twitter and how I manage that medium.

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Filed under Social Media