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Introductions Made Simple

By Ray Sclafani | January 12, 2010

One of our observations, as coaches, is that advisors can make the Referral Process too difficult for the potential refer-er to respond appropriately. (We much prefer using the term "Introduction" as opposed to "Referral". In our view, "referral" is old language that doesn't work anymore...sounds too commoditized.)

When asking for Introductions, advisors often preface their ask by saying something like, "Who do you know that...blah, blah, blah." One of the problems with the "Who do you know..." ask is that it presents the person that you are asking with Unlimited Choice, which is too much work for a lot of people. This is actually a problem for all of us. When presented with Choice Overload, we get confused...and confused consumers freeze up, and (often) take no action. We see this all the time. When asked "Who do you know..." the response often is something like, "Hmmmm, that's a good question. Let me get back to you." Of course, they never do.

This dilemma is illustrated in a good post on the Word of Mouth Marketing blog, "3-Minute WOM Lesson: How to get your fans to take action." Take a look at their first point. "Be Specific. Get fans moving by giving something specific to act upon. Rather than asking for general support, ask for specific things like reviews, volunteers, testimonials, feedback on a new product-whatever. By keeping your requests specific, your fans will know exactly how you need help."

When asking for an introduction, we see much better response rates if you mention another person...specifically. Moreover, you can greatly increase your chances of success by introducing a subtle twist to your ask. When your broach the topic of obtaining an introduction from a good friend or acquaintance, ask for their opinion too. Here is how this might sound:

"I have heard you speak very highly about your good friend, John Jones. I wanted to ask you if you think that John and I would be a good connection. Knowing what you know about John, and myself, would John and I work well together?"

Do you see what's happening here? Not only are you mentioning a specific name, you are asking your friend for their advice on this possible connection, between John Jones...and yourself. In a subtle way, you are asking your friend to "buy in" to the concept of making the right introductions.

There's another really important aspect to asking for this sort of introduction. Know what this is?

As a listener, you are compelled to listen to your clients and friends, and be alert when they mention specific names within their own personal circle or network...so that you might refer to this person at a later date. In this way, you aren't so much ASKING for introductions as you are LISTENING for introductions.

I trust this helps. All the best.

Topics: Business Development

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