Tuesday, March 09, 2010

CONNECTING IS NOT ENOUGH: Ten Tips to get your referral message across (Part Two)

 This article originally appeared in The National Networker

In last month’s first five tips we looked at the importance of knowing exactly the help you need when asking your network for referrals, and how to make specific requests that people respond to.

The type of information you share, the language you use and your consistency are also key, as we now go on to explore.

Tip Number Six - Keep it simple

People so often succumb to the temptation to load their champions with information to help them refer us. We want them to recognise every possible opportunity and answer every objection we can see coming.

Remember two things. First of all, they are simply our gatekeepers, making the introduction. They are not there to sell for us. Secondly, the more you give people to remember, the more they have to forget

Try using ‘The Twitter Measure’. Put your message into 140 characters. Edit, edit and edit some more. Does it still make sense? Could someone understand who you want to talk to and why?

Be brutal with your information. What do people NEED to know? Ensure you give them just enough to initiate the connection and then pass the rest to you.

Also consider their own background. Champions from your own industry or related areas may well need or be able to deal with more information than a friend who has the right connections but who doesn’t necessarily understand what’s involved.

Tip Number Seven - People love a story

Once you have worked out what your message is and the key information people need to understand, make it easier for them to do so by wrapping it up in a story. Case studies bring ideas to life and also add credibility to your request, proving you've solved similar problems successfully in the past and it’s not just an idea or concept.

Case studies also help people understand how to recognise a prospect and how you work with them to overcome their challenges and put the theory into context. Not only that but they are memorable and more easily recalled and repeated.

Tip Number Eight - Avoid Jargon

This is the trap that we can all easily fall into. It’s all so easy to lapse into words, phrases and references that we understand as part of our everyday language but which make no sense to people from outside our industry.

Do you know what terms you use that are jargon for someone else? Take the ‘Ten Year Old Test’. Tell a ten year old child what you do and then ask them to explain it back to you. Finding out how much they have been able to understand and relate back will give you a good indication of how well you are getting your message across.

The difference between a child and an adult is that the child will ask you if they don’t understand something. Adults are frightened of looking foolish and are more likely to nod politely and then take no action because they’ve missed the point than ask you to explain terms they’ve not understood.

Tailor your message to the person's experience. If it’s someone from your industry you can be far more complex in your explanations than someone who doesn’t have the relevant experience.

Tip Number Nine – Help people learn over time

As we’ve already discussed in a couple of these tips, you don't have to get everything across in one go. If you have someone who wants to refer you and has ample opportunity to do so, you’ll have plenty of time to educate them and help them to see a host of possibilities.

The fear of missing out on opportunities can lead to us trying to get across all of our products, services and prospects at the same time. However, focus on one request at a time and let people build up their understanding of how to help you gradually. Each individual request you make and referral they pass will build their knowledge.

Tip Number Ten - Manage how you are perceived

Help people to refer you by managing your reputation effectively. We often talk about ‘it’s not what you know but who you know.’ But I would argue that it’s far more important to be aware of who knows you and what they say about you.

What do you want people to say about you? We started off by looking at knowing who you would most like to be introduced to. It’s also vital that you understand what your general message and image should be. Focus on who you want people to be talking to about you, what you want them to be saying and how you can build the right public image.

Consistency is the key to ensuring that the right message is repeated. Whether that’s ensuring that your message and conversations are consistent with each other or your appearance and actions are consistent with the image and reputation you crave, you need to make sure everything fits.

Look at how you are getting your message out there at present and consider changes you could make using the ideas outlined above. If you’re not getting sufficient referrals at the moment, find two or three things you can change immediately and put them into place.

Approach people and ask for referrals. Be specific in your requests and keep the information simple and easy to understand. Put these ideas into practice and watch your flow of referrals increase with ease.


  1. Hi Andy,
    Just came a cross your blog via The NRG blog and I must say that I like your tips. I especially like the 'Telling stories' tips as this is a powerful way of generating referrals that has worked and continues to work for me.

    Thanks again,


  2. Thanks Adrian.

    People really do listen to and remember stories, so it's no surprise it's worked for you.

    I appreciate you taking the time to comment.

  3. Hi Andy,
    Thanks for these tips. I've been working with my BNI chapter as the education co-ordinator encouraging individuals to be creative in the way they ask for referrals - these tips are to the point and clear. I agree with Adrian, telling stories in particular is powerful and makes your message/request memorable.

  4. Thanks Marcie

    Please feel free to share the ideas with your Chapter, and let us know how well your fellow members take to them.