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    Home > Networking

    Networking With Referrals

    It's always much easier to get through to a new contact when you mention the person who referred you to them.

    The reason referrals work is that we're all looking for ways to prioritize our time — and it's hard to tell if a voicemail or e-mail from an unknown person is worth responding to.

    Salespeople try to obtain referrals from customers by asking questions like, "Who do you know that needs my product (or service)?" The main reason this technique doesn't work well is that we don't want a friend or associate complaining that we turned a pesky salesperson onto them.

    Asking for Referrals

    Yet, referrals can work well for salespeople, entrepreneurs, managers, CEOs, and anyone else looking for information or help.

    In an article about asking for coaching help, Lisa Haneberg includes several ways to ask for referrals, such as:

    • Ask people who else you should talk to about the idea/project/goal.
    • Ask "I want to _______. What questions should I be asking and who should I ask?"

    Offering Referrals

    Part of being in a network of contacts is spotting opportunities for two contacts who don't know each other — yet.

    As I get to know someone, I try to be on the lookout for other contacts who would make a good match so I can introduce them to one another. I'll send an e-mail introducing two people to each other, schedule a conference call with them, or arrange a lunch for the three of us.

    At a networking event a few years ago I noticed two clients standing near each other, but both were engaged in conversations and unlikely to meet each other. I walked over and introduced them to each other and explained why I thought they should get acquainted. They later formed a business partnership between their companies that lead to them jointly developing a new line of products.

    Referrals make networking so much easier and fun — you just have to know how to ask for them or create them.

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