Referral Generation Tip:

It was an innocent enough situation, and one which could have easily spiralled out of control. It also was a situation which illustrated why so many of us fail with our referral generation. In this blog post I will explain all, but also give you some ideas on how to maximise the number of referrals you receive from your network by what you say to people. 

So, what actually happened?

In one of the Facebook groups I regularly frequent, there was a request for a speaker with expertise in ‘Design thinking’.  I like many of the people in the group assumed this meant an expert in ‘Design’ and made appropriate recommendations. It then transpired that ‘Design thinking’ is actually nothing to do with the discipline of design. (Who’d have thought it!!). And, that, I thought was that. Until I received a polite note from a friend saying that she would have been a great fit for this opportunity. It wasn’t an antagonist note and there was no hint of malice, aggression or negativity.

Why didn’t I recommend my friend for the opportunity?

Let’s see beyond the obvious, i.e. I didn’t know what ‘Design thinking’ actually was, and go a little deeper. I knew my friend for one set of expertise, not anything related to ‘Design thinking’. Therefore, the problem lies with how my friend had been communicating her expertise to both myself, but also her wider network. This was severely hampering her referral generation from her network. When you think about how a referral is actually triggered, it is a combination of the following:

  • an opportunity occurs, e.g. the request on the Facebook group
  • credibility, i.e. who do you know who is credible in this area?
  • visibility, i.e. who pops into your mind?
  • goodwill, i.e. who do you like and want to help?

The challenge my friend faced, and many of us face, is the credibility factor. If we don’t educate our network on the types of people we work with and the value we bring to them, then very simply, we wouldn’t get referrals from our network for the types of opportunities we really want.

What gets in the way of effectively educating our network about what we do? I.e. to help with referral generation

There are many things which stop us from educating our network effectively. These could be: Not specialist enough: This is the situation where you are trying to be too many things to too many people. You often see this when people say they specialise in broad swathes of their market place such as ‘high net wealth individuals’, ‘SMEs’, ‘entrepreneurs’, ‘large corporates’. Too many specialisms: This isn’t quite the same as not being specialist enough. This is where someone has got a multitude of specialisms and so stops being memorable for everything they do. The more information you may your network remember about you, the stronger the likelihood that they will forget the key things they need to remember. Not enough profile building activities: We are all busy people these days. As a result we spend less and less one-on-one time with people. This means that the day-to-day stuff we communicate via social media is very important for letting people know what we do and the results we achieve. This could be via LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and your blog. If you expect your network to remember what you do ONLY via limited face-to-face interactions, then you will be missing out on referrals.

In summary:

The messages you communicate about yourself and what you are do are crucial to whether or not your network will become your best referral generation source. I.e. they refer you regularly and to the right kind of work.

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