When you refer someone is it just a simple, “Mike, meet Susie”?
Putting in just a little extra work can make a massive difference not only in connecting the two but in how that person you just referred to approaches their new client. Here’s how to make the most of your referrals.
I pick up the ideas for blog topics in the weirdest places. Recently a local CEO (Dave Goldberg) suddenly passed away. I didn’t know him but he certainly touched a lot of people in the tech world. I came across a lengthy article in Linkedin by Adam Grant the other day and was struck by a short paragraph.
Dave was the CEO of SurveyMonkey, and he hosted me to speak there a year ago. When he gave the introduction, I was so embarrassed by his kind words that I could hardly speak. I knew I didn’t deserve his praise, but I wanted to earn a fraction of it.
You can read the entire post.
It got me thinking about referrals.
It reminds me of a story I heard at a conference once. The speaker asked the person working the concierge desk where to go get a nice steak.
The concierge desk said, “Right across the street. Jim’s SteakHouse. It’s an easy walk.”
How easy was that? As a concierge, they need to know the best place for just about anything. As he was walking out to go across the street he ran into the Bellhop.
The Bellhop said, “Oh man! I don’t get to eat out much, but last week for my birthday dinner my friends took me out to The Durango. It’s all the way across town. I ordered the RibEye steak. You wouldn’t believe it! The steak was huge! It came out on a plate that was heated to over 500 degrees. It had this glorious pat of compound butter that was a reduction of porcini mushrooms and balsamic vinegar that was literally melting right before my eyes! The steak was cooked perfectly. I ordered a baked potato with all the fixings and when it came the waiter also brought this tray of most every kind of fixing you could imagine. Have you ever had a baked potato with maple glazed applewood smoked bacon before?”
Needless to say, instead of walking across the street, the speaker hopped in a cab and drove across town for his steak. Was it a better steak? Not necessarily, but it was a better referral by far. Enthusiasm and detail make a difference.
(photo credit: Thomas Hawk)
I love referrals. I love when my past clients recommend me to the people they care about, or just people that I’ve connected with over the years. (thanks Calie!)
— Calie Waterhouse (@CWaterhouse) May 6, 2015
Did you know that almost daily someone asks me for a recommendation for an agent somewhere? I LOVE helping to connect others even more!
I’ve never sold real estate, yet I know agents all over the U.S. and Canada. I have contacts in most every city. Truth be told, when I refer an agent to someone it’s not a recommendation that comes from my having used them to buy or sell a house. It’s almost always from my having built a relationship with that person over the years. You can tell a lot from the way someone interacts with you and how they also perform in their business.
The referral is part science, part art
There are coaches and coaches and even more coaches that will teach you the art and science of receiving referrals. In real estate there are people who have a large part of their business plan being referrals. For those outside the industry, that generally means they share in part of the commission. For the record, not so with me. I ask for nothing back in return.
There’s art in what Dave did.
When a referral happens it’s usually not much more than an introduction. “Susie, meet Tom. Tom is the guy I told you that can make those widgets you want.” – that kind of thing. There’s no art in that.
The next thing is that happens is MAYBE Susie will reach out to Tom, maybe Tom will reach out to Susie. Amongst other things, Susie will have to properly convey what she needs and Tom will have to properly convey that he has the skills to achieve it.
But it’s more than that. We tend to work with those we like. In the process of learning about each other, a million things could interrupt the progress. Susie might come off as picky or stingy. Tom might have a large project he’s working on and might be slow to answer her questions. Both could misinterpret the other and the referral fades away. That’s just a small sample of the million things that happen everyday to perfectly good referrals.
It doesn’t have to be that way
I love the art of what Dave did. I’m going to start doing this right away. In my referral situations I’m not going to take the ‘Concierge’ route. I’m going to be that ‘Bellhop’ instead.
By talking up the person you are referring them to, not only do you start to create an affinity between the two but you are also going to push the person that’s getting the referral to spend a little more time with your person.
I don’t have to lie. I don’t have to embellish. All I have to do is share some interesting stories about the other person in a real and enthusiastic way.
I know when someone talks me up in their referral I feel the same way Adam says he felt, “I knew I didn’t deserve his praise, but I wanted to earn a fraction of it.” That’s powerful stuff.
So in the future if you get a referral from me you know what’s going on.
If you are referring someone to me to help with their website – I’d love it if you did the same.