by Sabrina Risley

Last month, I shared Part One on how to become a Referral Superstar, so you can build a referral network that actually delivers referrals. I shared WHY you want to use referrals to build your business, WHO your potential referral partners are, and asked you to be specific in WHAT you are looking for in a referral.

If you’ve completed your “homework,” you are now ready to move on.  If not, be sure to Read Part One first.  Referral Superstars, let’s talk about WHEN and HOW to ask for referrals.

W #4 = When

Once you know who to ask and you’ve identified what to specifically ask for, knowing when to ask is crucial. Asking a contact too soon can feel like asking someone to marry you on a first date.

It’s never too late to ask for referrals once you’ve:

  • Established rapport,
  • Formed a trusting relationship,
  • Ensured them you will take care any contacts they send your way.

A great time to ask for referrals is right after you’ve successfully completed work and you’ve delivered excellent customer service resulting in a very satisfied customer. This customer is in a state of gratitude and appreciation for the work you’ve completed for them and they are ready to share that experience with others. For example, as an insurance agent, you just wrote a new policy for a client and saved them $200 per year. This is the perfect time to ASK for a referral!

Within your network and circle of influence, when to ask can be a little tricky. As we’ve said before, asking too soon can be damaging to the relationship. Most people need to see or hear from you an average of 7 to 9 times before they feel confident and comfortable with you and your products or services. To speed up rapport building and trust, make a habit of reaching out to your contacts consistently. Create a plan of contact.

If in doubt, wait it out. Consider the number of quality “touches” you’ve made with this person, if it’s less than five, enlist a few more measures to ensure you are establishing rapport, trust, and confidence. Perhaps you can pick up the phone and ask what they most need right now, take them to coffee or have lunch after a networking event, or even send a referral or connection their way. Individuals with Bob Burg’s Go-Giver® mentality receive the most.

How:

Once you know who your referral sources are, you’ve identified what a good prospect looks like and you know when to ask, you are ready to actually ask for the referral. Asking for referrals can be intimidating, but if you’ve followed the instructions on when to ask, your request will be well-received.

Here is how to phrase the question.

  • Start by asking an open ended question. Instead of asking “Do you know anyone?” ask, “Who do you know?”
  • To increase your chance of receiving referrals, use the specifics about what your ideal referral looks like. The more general you are, the harder it is for people to recall someone in need of your service. However, if you ask for a specific referral like, “Who do you know that is currently looking to move out of state and sell their home?” people can more readily pinpoint who in their network fits into that specific scenario.

Here are a few more examples to consider:

Realtor: “Who do you know in your wine club that is getting ready to retire within the next two years?”

Marketing:  “Who do you know in Littelton that is struggling to build their business using online marketing strategies?”

Financial Planner: “Who do you know in the Denver metro area that is a higher level executive and recently switched companies?” (You see, they might need their 401k managed).

Here’s another example of how to ask for referrals.  In his book, Endless ReferralsBob Burg suggests, “Anne, I’m in the process of expanding my referral business, and I find it’s helpful to partner with my clients and friends such as you. Could we take a few quick minutes to run past the names of some people I might also be able to help?”

Practice asking for referrals and find the words that work for you. But simply asking for referrals sets you apart from 90% of the professionals within your industry.  All you need to do is follow the Why, Who, What, When and How, and you’ll soon become a Referral Superstar.

For related reading, see also our Janauary 2011 post, The Most Important Factor to Receiving Referrals = YOU!

 

 

Sabrina Risley

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