In many businesses, people rely on referrals from others as a primary source of business. But, do you think they can be trusted? Because many a times these referrals are unsuccessful. The reason behind the failure is “surface level” referral relationships.
Understand that through referral you will know only about their referral sources’ businesses to get by. You will not know much about the people themselves. They tend to say vague things like: “He is really nice,” “You’ll like her; she’s a good person,” or “Well, if you just meet with him, I am sure you’ll like him.” If pressed further, they probably couldn’t tell you much more about those people. This is probably because they have not built enough social capital with them to count on when they really need something from the relationship.
The secret towards building a deep referral relationship is actually dependent on the social capital you have built with someone. Social capital is much like financial capital. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You need to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal.
Relationships are no different and referral relationships in particular are almost the same.
This is an example of someone who amassed quite a bit of social capital from a friend of mine.
Bob was a casual business associate I knew. From the time we started talking he invested in the relationship. He gave me ideas, gave me his time, he even did some work on a website for me.
When ever I asked him how I could help him to return the favor and reciprocate for all the kindnesses and great help he’d been to me, his reply would be,”I don’t need anything. I’m happy to do this.”
This went on for almost a year. Every two to three months, Bob would show up on my radar and did something for me.
One day he called me up and said,” I have a favor to ask. . .” and I stopped him right there before he could say anything else
“Yes!” I said.
“But you didn’t even hear what the favor is!” he said, laughing.
I replied that I didn’t have to hear what the favor was. I told him I knew him well enough to know he was not going to ask me something impossible and that he had invested so much into the relationship that I would do anything in return to help.
What he asked for was a small promotion for one of his services. It was not a big deal for me, but it was for Bob. I was glad that I could help.
In my long career, a huge number of folks have come and asked me to promote something for them. But the point is majority of those who contact me have never actually met me or had a previous conversation with me before. They’ve never invested in the relationship and yet they want a withdrawal from it!
Before you ask for a withdrawal make sure to make an investment by building a deep referral relationship. If you can answer yes to most or all of the following points about a person and his/her business, you may have a pretty deep and successful referral relationship:
- You trust them to do a great job and take great care of your referred prospects.
- You have known each other for at least one year.
- You understand at least three major products or services within their business and feel comfortable explaining them to others.
- You know the names of their family members and have met them personally.
- You have both asked each other how you can help grow your respective businesses.
- You know at least five of their goals for the year, including personal and business goals.
- You could call them at 9 o’clock at night if you really needed something.
- You would not feel awkward asking them for help with either a personal or business challenge.
- You enjoy the time you spend together.
- You have regular appointments scheduled, both business and personal.
- You enjoy seeing them achieve further success.
- They are “top of mind” regularly.
- You have open, honest talks about how you can help each other further.
I believe that referrals are personal. Because whenever you are giving a referral, you are giving away a bit of your reputation too. You need to know the person that is going to affect your reputation. It takes a lot to develop this type of relationship. But if you succeed in building one you will be successful in building your business too.
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