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The Golden Rule Of Referrals: Learn to Give a Perfect Referral

The Golden Rule Of Referrals: Learn to Give a Perfect Referral
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The subject of getting referrals has been written to death. Unfortunately, when you read and follow one of those articles or networking books on the subject of getting referrals, you are probably starting on the wrong foot. A better approach is to become really good at giving great referrals. It is a bit like the “giver’s gain” concept in networking which basically goes that those who give great service to others are rewarded for doing so. The golden rule of “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” applies to referrals too.

When you give a referral, the people on both sides should feel like they are being treated with respect – like V.I.P.s or the very important persons that they are. You should be able to give a perfect referral so that the people on both sides get back to you expressing their gratitude for your having made the referral.

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To give a perfect referral, there needs to be a perfect process and it needs to involve perfect people. You will need to create your own process according to your style and preferred approaches. Whether you only have enough time to squeeze out a few phone calls and emails between things or can fly to Jamaica for a round of golf or day of windsurfurfing to make proper introductions depends on your circumstances. Whatever your process, it needs to be sound.

There is a sliding scale of referral process quality from bad to good. Where do your referrals fit on the scale?

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  1. Name-dropping referral. This is when you allow someone to use your name “talk to this person, use my name” with the other side not having been set up expecting something. In other words, permission has not been obtained so it becomes little more than an awkward cold call. This is bad.
  2. Email referral or what we call “referral spamming”. This is when you cc people as you would do with subordinates in an office. There is notice but it is a one way thing without there being permission granted from the other side. The appropriateness of the request has not been confirmed by asking the anticipated recipient before the email notice goes out. This is so so.
  3. Perfect referral. When you talk to both people, get permissions and also confirm the fit before going forward. Followed by a confirmation (maybe by email) and a follow up on how the meeting went and possibly attending the meeting itself. This is what a perfect referral looks like. Your process needs to cover these elements.

Making referrals should not be a high volume operation. One good one done well is better than making 10 crappy ones that can embarrass a bunch of people.

To ensure a perfect referral is given, you need to give it to the right people. These people should have the following attributes:

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  1. They should be the best at whatever it is that they do. “An empty bag will not stand upright.” – Benjamin Franklin.
  2. These should be people that keep their word. There is not much point in referring people who are unable to keep their word. That type of referral is unlikely to produce anything constructive.
  3. They should be easy to deal with. People who are cheerful and pleasant to deal with are the best to have involved in the referral process.
  4. They should say “thank you” and prove it. It depends on the nature of the referral. Something slightly above the ordinary or expected can have long-lasting, positive effects. Sending a hand-written follow up card, flowers or a token gift to someone who would not be expecting it can make a strong positive impression. People who obtain referrals should not take their referrers for granted and should acknowledge them both privately and publicly for the referral.

Everyone involved in the referral should be treated with respect. Since first impressions count and referrals by definition are for making introductions, everyone involved with the process should be mindful of the consequences of a bad first impression that can be caused by a glitched referral.

For you as the referrer, the goal is to have both sides thank you after the referral has taken place. This will make it easy to obtain referrals later from these people when you need them.

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The perfect people using the perfect process creates the perfect referral. Can you say that three times fast?

Peter Paul Roosen and Tatsuya Nakagawa are co-founders of Atomica Creative Group , a specialized strategic product marketing firm. Through leading edge insight and research, sound strategic planning and effective project management, Atomica helps companies achieve greater success in bringing new products to market and in improving their existing businesses. They have co-authored Overcoming Inventoritis: Happy About® Not flushing Away Your Innovation Dollars now available.

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Last Updated on March 31, 2020

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Is Procrastination Bad? The Truth About Procrastination Revealed

Procrastination is very literally the opposite of productivity. To produce something is to pull it forward, while to procrastinate is to push it forward — to tomorrow, to next week, or ultimately to never.

Procrastination fills us with shame — we curse ourselves for our laziness, our inability to focus on the task at hand, our tendency to be easily led into easier and more immediate gratifications. And with good reason: for the most part, time spent procrastinating is time spent not doing things that are, in some way or other, important to us.

There is a positive side to procrastination, but it’s important not to confuse procrastination at its best with everyday garden-variety procrastination.

Sometimes — sometimes! — procrastination gives us the time we need to sort through a thorny issue or to generate ideas. In those rare instances, we should embrace procrastination — even as we push it away the rest of the time.

Why We Procrastinate After All?

We procrastinate for a number of reasons, some better than others. One reason we procrastinate is that, while we know what we want to do, we need time to let the ideas “ferment” before we are ready to sit down and put them into action.

Some might call this “creative faffing”; I call it, following copywriter Ray Del Savio’s lead, “concepting”.[1]

Whatever you choose to call it, it’s the time spent dreaming up what you want to say or do, weighing ideas in your mind, following false leads and tearing off on mental wild goose chases, and generally thinking things through.

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To the outside observer, concepting looks like… well, like nothing much at all. Maybe you’re leaning back in your chair, feet up, staring at the wall or ceiling, or laying in bed apparently dozing, or looking out over the skyline or feeding pigeons in the park or fiddling with the Japanese vinyl toys that stand watch over your desk.

If ideas are the lifeblood of your work, you have to make time for concepting, and you have to overcome the sensation— often overpowering in our work-obsessed culture — that faffing, however creative, is not work.

Is Procrastination Bad?

Yes it is.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re “concepting” when in fact you’re just not sure what you’re supposed to be doing.

Spending an hour staring at the wall while thinking up the perfect tagline for a marketing campaign is creative faffing; staring at the wall for an hour because you don’t know how to come up with a tagline, or don’t know the product you’re marketing well enough to come up with one, is just wasting time.

Lack of definition is perhaps the biggest friend of your procrastination demons. When we’re not sure what to do — whether because we haven’t planned thoroughly enough, we haven’t specified the scope of what we hope to accomplish in the immediate present, or we lack important information, skills, or resources to get the job done.

It’s easy to get distracted or to trick ourselves into spinning our wheels doing nothing. It takes our mind off the uncomfortable sensation of failing to make progress on something important.

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The answer to this is in planning and scheduling. Rather than giving yourself an unspecified length of time to perform an unspecified task (“Let’s see, I guess I’ll work on that spreadsheet for a while”) give yourself a limited amount of time to work on a clearly defined task (“Now I’ll enter the figures from last months sales report into the spreadsheet for an hour”).

Giving yourself a deadline, even an artificial one, helps build a sense of urgency and also offers the promise of time to “screw around” later, once more important things are done.

For larger projects, planning plays a huge role in whether or not you’ll spend too much time procrastinating to reach the end reasonably quickly.

A good plan not only lists the steps you have to take to reach the end, but takes into account the resources, knowledge and inputs from other people you’re going to need to perform those steps.

Instead of futzing around doing nothing because you don’t have last month’s sales report, getting the report should be a step in the project.

Otherwise, you’ll spend time cooling your heels, justifying your lack of action as necessary: you aren’t wasting time because you want to, but because you have to.

How Bad Procrastination Can Be

Our mind can often trick us into procrastinating, often to the point that we don’t realize we’re procrastinating at all.

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After all, we have lots and lots of things to do; if we’re working on something, aren’t we being productive – even if the one big thing we need to work on doesn’t get done?

One way this plays out is that we scan our to-do list, skipping over the big challenging projects in favor of the short, easy projects. At the end of the day, we feel very productive: we’ve crossed twelve things off our list!

That big project we didn’t work on gets put onto the next day’s list, and when the same thing happens, it gets moved forward again. And again.

Big tasks often present us with the problem above – we aren’t sure what to do exactly, so we look for other ways to occupy ourselves.

In many cases too, big tasks aren’t really tasks at all; they’re aggregates of many smaller tasks. If something’s sitting on your list for a long time, each day getting skipped over in favor of more immediately doable tasks, it’s probably not very well thought out.

You’re actively resisting it because you don’t really know what it is. Try to break it down into a set of small tasks, something more like the tasks you are doing in place of the one big task you aren’t doing.

More consequences of procrastination can be found in this article: 8 Dreadful Effects of Procrastination That Can Destroy Your Life

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Procrastination, a Technical Failure

Procrastination is, more often than not, a sign of a technical failure, not a moral failure.

It’s not because we’re bad people that we procrastinate. Most times, procrastination serves as a symptom of something more fundamentally wrong with the tasks we’ve set ourselves.

It’s important to keep an eye on our procrastinating tendencies, to ask ourselves whenever we notice ourselves pushing things forward what it is about the task we’ve set ourselves that simply isn’t working for us.

Learn more about how to fix your procrastination problem here: What Is Procrastination and How to Stop It (The Complete Guide)

Featured photo credit: chuttersnap via unsplash.com

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