4 Tips When You Give and Never Receive Anything in Return

By Sabrina Risley

In my March 2013 post, You Give and Give… But Are You Willing To Receive?, we talked about how it is necessary to be willing, able and open to receiving. It’s true, it’s just as important to receive as it is to give in your business. This month, let’s continue the conversation, however from a slightly different angle.

Assuming you are open and willing to receive, what happens when you realize things just are not coming back to you?  More specifically, what happens when you have a referral partnership – a defined relationship in which you and a professional with a similar target market refer business to one another – and you are giving referrals yet are not receiving referrals in return?

Let’s start with the concept of reciprocal relationships. As Stephen Covey’s metaphor illustrates, we have an “emotional bank account” with those with whom we have a relationship. We receive “deposits” into our own emotional bank account when someone does something for us, gives us praise or acknowledgement, or goes out of their way to be kind.  We make withdrawals from our own emotional bank account and a deposit into the other person’s emotional bank account when we do these kind activities for another person. It’s an emotional exchange in which trust and confidence grows.

Now let’s apply the metaphor of the emotional bank account to a business referral partnership. Since each relationship has its own emotional bank account, we easily notice when there is an “unbalanced exchange” in which we have referred business (made deposits), yet have not received referrals (received deposits) from them in return. An unbalanced exchange can result in feelings of resentment.

If you find yourself in an unbalanced exchange with a referral partner, do not allow resentment to build.  Evaluate the relationship and decide which action to take.

  • Educate: Do they know your business, products and services well enough?  They need to understand your business in order to be able to notice a good referral for you.
  • Specify:  Many have the mistaken idea that being broad means receiving more referrals. Instead, it is important to be specific with the types of referrals you are seeking.
  • Coach: Do you prefer to be introduced to a referral by email?  Would you like your partner to provide you with the referral’s contact information and inform them of your upcoming call to them? Be sure they understand how you would like to be introduced to referrals.
  • Ask: Are you actually asking for referrals? Don’t assume that because you are referring to them that they know to refer to you. You must ask and remind them that you count on their referrals.

While I believe most referral partnerships have the opportunity to become reciprocal over time, it is possible that you are in a partnership with someone who doesn’t have the audience to refer back to you or vice versa. If you feel you have everything set up to ensure a reciprocal referral partnership yet you are still not receiving referrals in return, it might be time to make an honest assessment about the relationship. Perhaps it has a longer term payoff in which case you might choose to continue nourishing the relationship. However, you might decide it is time to make a tough decision and dissolve the relationship.

Let’s face it, we MUST attend to the ROI of our giving and perhaps make adjustments when we don’t receive anything in return.  To learn more about asking for referrals, be sure to join Sabrina at the April 26, 2013 CERTUS workshop: Become a Referral Superstar: The Art of ASKING For and RECEIVING Referrals to Grow Your Business Exponentially.

© 2013 CERTUS Professional Network / Behind The Moon, Inc.  All rights reserved.


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Sabrina Risley

Sabrina Risley is a master connector. She’s been hosting live networking events since 2004 and has welcomed 20,000+ professionals to those events. She shares her observations, insights and tips of how the top 2% of effective and magnetic networkers build their businesses. She also shares what NOT to do when networking. Get her complimentary e-book: Strategic Networking for Success.
Sabrina Risley

4 thoughts on “4 Tips When You Give and Never Receive Anything in Return”

  1. Terrific article with outstanding wisdom. As you pointed out, first, one must become conscious that there’s an issue to be solved and then, utilizing the expert advice you provided, create the solution. Referral wisdom such as this is why I consider you to be one of the top Networking and referral authorities in the world and why I suggest everyone in business in your area apply for membership in CERTUS. You are both a great leader and teacher!

  2. Sabrina Risley

    Awww Bob, thank you for your kind comment. I have amazing mentors, like you, from whom I have learned. Denver loves you, Bob! 🙂

  3. Pingback: Create a D.R.E.A.M. Team for Ongoing Referrals – CERTUS

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