A Referral is a Referral is a Referral… or, is it?

One of the things that distinguishes MASTER networkers from the crowd is their ability to see the real value of a room. While many networkers are out hunting for their next client, master networkers know that all referrals ARE NOT created equal.

First tier referrals happen when a prospect refers him / herself as a potential client.  These opportunities are, of course VALUABLE, but if they are the focus of our networking, we are leaving 90% of our opportunity on the table.

Second tier referrals happen when a member of our COI (center of influence) refers us a prospect who has the problem we solve, acknowledges it and is open to discussing a solution.  This kind of referral should produce about 70% of our referred revenue, the catch is, that you most likely will not receive these referrals at a casual networking event.  Second tier referrals are born of visibility and credibility and usually take some extra, one on one, effort.  Be sure to find out what their what to look for and listen for in order to spot an ideal client.  Remember: If you market to anyone and everyone as if they were a prospect, you’ll get no one as a client!  It’s counterintuitive to be super specific about what you want, but casting a wide net results in far fewer referrals than being laser focused!

If you cannot provide a contact with an introduction to a potential client, you can dramatically affect their prosperity by offering to connect them to a COI — someone who does business on a regular basis with their ideal client.  These third tier “Golden Goose” referrals are incredibly valuable because a GOOD COI can bring your friend 30-40-50 referrals over the course of a year!  These referrals can account for 20%+ of your referred revenue over time!

In fact, this is how (and why) BNI chapters create so much value for their member, even though not every member is going to hire every other member.  If I’m not in the market to sell my house, I won’t be referring myself to the real estate agent!

Not every member is in a position to bring a steady stream of new clients to the table for every other member… As a business coach, I won’t be finding buyers / sellers of real estate on a daily business since my “ideal client” is a business owner looking to dramatically increase their revenue by referral.  Will the opportunity arise for me to send a prospect to my realtor partner?  Occasionally — of course!  But it won’t be a steady, predictable stream of business!  So how can I help my realtor partner?

I can be on the look out for people who do business with prospects who are having life changes — Jewelers who meet couples who are getting engaged, home health care professionals whose clients leave their home for an assisted living facility, doulas or obstetricians who meet growing families.  I can ALSO be on the look out for the kind of professionals who help my real estate friend close the deal — contractors, inspectors, mortgage lenders, title companies, etc….  Introductions to those kinds of professionals are very valuable to my realtor partner!

Zig Ziglar said it best: Help enough other people get what they need and you’ll have everything you want.  

So, the next time you are out networking, why not be an ambassador for others in your network?  Focus on introducing the people you meet to the people you know.  Once you have created a reputation for yourself of being a consummate connector, you’ll reap many great rewards — both personal and professional!

About the Author: The Referral Diva