By Ben Fleisher
There is such a buzz right now about networking! And if your business is anything like mine (shameless plug: I’m an Acupuncturist, I work in Midtown East, my website is www.benfleisher.com), word-of-mouth marketing legitimately is vital to generating new business.
So, if the core philosophy of effective networking is that you have to give good referrals to get good referrals (or some similar networking-karma cosmology), the question is: what is a good referral?
Well, let me tell you, and let me give you an easy way to remember the five main elements of a great referral:
G is for GUT. How do you know when a referral is right? Is it just a skill set or particular service in a particular neighborhood?? Well, sometimes it is, but a truly invaluable referral comes when it is more than that. The referrer knows in his or her gut that the connection will be a good one. Call it intuition, call it matchmaking, call it whatever you like. The first question is always, does my gut think this is a good match?
I is for INSIGHTS. Share your insights about both parties! Set them up for a great relationship by being honest with them about how much you know (and don’t know) about who you are referring them to. Is it only a gut instinct and you have no idea what they are like as a business person? Do you know them personally, but not in the context of this referral? Be generous and honest and let each party know why you think they should meet.
I is also for INTRODUCTIONS. Don’t skip this part! Take the time to actually introduce the two parties. This could be in an email or, if the circumstances permit, in person. And this is the fun part! You get to shower each one with a few compliments and let them start their relationship from there. Don’t laze out with a passed email or a shared contact. Do the actual introducing and you create the ground from which their relationship can grow.
F is for FOLLOW-THROUGH. Referrals don’t just grow on their own. Water the seedlings you have planted by following up and making sure that both parties were taken care of. This will also illuminate to you more about just who these people are when they are not basking in your personal soul-shining self. If you were the recipient of a referral, follow-up with the person who referred you! Thank them, put them on your holiday card list, take them to tea and see how you can help them in a reciprocal way. I can’t emphasize enough how important the follow-through is to actually building relationships with the referral sources being kindest to you. The follow-through is perhaps the best thing you can do to generate future business.
T is for TRUST. It basically comes down to trust. Someone is trusting you with a referral, how are you going to honor their trust? You are trusting someone else with your precious recommendation. How are they honoring that trust?
Especially in the modern world we live in, trust is our strongest currency. It transcends market crashes and information bombardment and practically everything else.
Strong referral networks can easily become the most significant source of business for you, as they already are for the majority of small businesses. Take the time honor each referral as a GIIFT and you will have the rest of your life to celebrate!