Getting a referral feels good doesn’t it.
Except when it doesn’t.
You know, when you meet the person who’s been referred and you realise they’re not a good fit.
You feel bad. It’s a wasted opportunity.
After all good recommendations are like gold dust – they’re worth a fortune but hard to find.
The last thing you want is to let them slip through your fingers.
Not to mention having to let both the recommendee and recommender down.
While letting a referral go is not the end of the world, it’s definitely not something you want to happen often.
Get a Great Referral First Time, Every Time
Avoiding poor recommendations is important.
Increasing the number and frequency of quality introductions is essential.
In my experience, the reason why many businesses don’t get the quantity or quality of recommendations they deserve, is because they either don’t know how to ask or what to ask for.
More often than not it’s both.
Having spent my fair share of time at networking breakfasts and lunches, it has become clear as to what’s going wrong.
The typical one minute pitch will go something like this:
Hi my name is Tony and I work for ABC Accountants and we help companies both big and small with their personal and company accounting.
This is followed by a break down of the services they offer and a proclamation of a job role in an industry they want to meet, e.g. CEOs of manufacturing businesses.
The result is a dull, uninspiring pitch that is soon forgotten.
What it definitely doesn’t do is offer any information that would help those present to identify a good referral opportunity.
Why does this happen?
Well we’re back on familiar territory.
The fear of missing out on any or all opportunities leads to generalised statements that the presenter hopes will capture the largest number of referrals.
Logical yes but in practise it leads to an empty net.
A Scientifically Proven Method for Generating Referrals
If you want to get more referrals, more often, you’ve got to get better at describing who you want to meet.
Because when you can paint a clear picture of who you want to attract, you enable your network to easily identify the people they know that fit the bill.
To understand why, it’s necessary to look at how memory works.
When it comes to the act of remembering, the brain has two ways of searching for the information, recognition and recall.
Recognition is the process of associating something we’re experiencing in the present with something we’ve encountered in the past.
For example, seeing the face of someone you recognise.
This is an unconscious process. The brain has a dedicated face-recognition area that creates a sense of familiarity. Which is why, when we see someone we think we know, we say your face looks familiar.
However, just because we recognise someone doesn’t mean that we will remember who they are.
That relies on recall.
Unlike recognition, recall is a conscious process that requires a person to remember a fact that is not present.
For example, your partner asks you where you spent your first date. With no clues present, you have to access your memory for the answer. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you’ll need further information in the form of clues to aid recall.
Looking at this now through the lens of a networking event, it’s clear why many people come away empty handed.
When you ask someone for a referral, you’re asking them to access their mental rolodex, in the hope that they can match what you want, with someone they know.
Now I don’t know about you but I have enough trouble remembering the important stuff. So I’m certainly not going to have my database of contacts at my fingertips.
If you don’t give me all the information I need, there is very little chance that someone of value will come to mind.
A Simple Formula for Achieving Total Recall
Effective networking then is not about generalising in the hope of capturing a wide audience. Instead, it’s about being specific so that you capture the one or two people that will make a perfect fit.
To do that you can use this simple formula:
This is where your case studies come into play because they include all of this information already.
And when this information is packaged in the form of a story, it provides a very compelling picture indeed. Stories have always been a powerful medium for passing on information because they create strong images in the mind of the reader.
Here’s an example of a story that I use:
We recently helped the owner of a London based creative agency who wanted to expand outside of his niche. Having exhausted opportunities from the automotive industry, he’d hit a roadblock in his growth.
Although brilliant at what he does, his lack of marketing expertise meant his efforts were not producing the results he’d hoped for. We helped him to identify the people that would make perfect prospects and then developed a campaign that specifically targeted them. In the last 18 months he has attracted 5 new clients and added £100,000s to his bottom line.
Do you know someone that’s struggling with something similar, who could benefit from our knowledge and expertise?
The best thing about this formula is it doesn’t just tell a person who you want to meet but also why they should introduce you.
This comes in extremely useful when addressing a group of people that don’t know you well because it enables you to build credibility with them quickly.
It also provides them with the information they need to convince their network to meet with you.
If the person you are meeting doesn’t know anyone that fits the bill, try another case study.
Having a few at your fingertips will increase your chances of your walking away with a good haul of referrals.
Using the formula and information you’ve generated from last time, create two 60 second stories that you can share with your network.
Whether a lead comes to you cold or is generated via an intro, the recommendee will not doubt check you out.
This is where a lot of business come unstuck.
They throw all of their effort into finding and attracting good prospects but don’t have the information ready to go that confirms you as a perfect supplier/partner.
No matter how they’ve found you or whose referred them, your website is going to be your prospects’ first port of call.
If it’s not ready to receive them all your hard work wooing them in the first place will have been wasted.
You are most likely in a fiercely competitive market, which means your prospects have an unlimited amount of choice.
You need to stand out from the crowd and the best way to do that is to quickly build credibility and trust.
In the next part of the course, we’ll show you how.
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I haven’t read the other related pieces, Alex, but thought you raised good points. I am a fan of case studies for the very reason that, as stories, they are easier to remember.
Hi Helen, I agree. The fact they are stories make them memorable. It also gives them an emotional punch that the vast majority of sales and marketing collaterals fail to deliver. Perhaps their most important quality is that they help companies to differentiate through the one thing that is most meaningful to their market – value.