5 Ways to Get More Referrals from your Professional Contacts : Under30CEO 5 Ways to Get More Referrals from your Professional Contacts : Under30CEO
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5 Ways to Get More Referrals from your Professional Contacts

| November 21, 2013 | 5 Comments

Networking

The quantity and quality of one’s professional network can be extremely valuable in career and business development. Getting introductions through your existing contacts is an excellent way to meet new contacts, customers, partners, or investors. Sharing a common relationship adds rapport and social proof to the interaction. This post describes five strategies for increasing the amount of introductions you get from your friends and colleagues.

Display value

Introductions should be valuable to all three parties. The two people being introduced have the opportunity to engage in a mutually beneficial interaction or business opportunity, and the person making the introduction is being helpful to both sides. To obtain a high quantity and quality of introductions, make people feel confident and proud to introduce you to their connections. Without sounding too arrogant or overbearing, let people know about your skills and accomplishments. If people believe that you will represent them well and that you will be helpful to their contacts, they will be motivated to introduce you.

I recently had coffee with an entrepreneur I’ve known for a while. He told me about the outstanding progress his company had been making. Because the entrepreneur and his company were doing great things, I knew that other people in my network would want to meet him. After the meeting I sent his information to two investors and two potential partners and made introductions.

Be helpful

Find ways to add value to others without expecting anything in return. When you do something for someone that helps in some way, people naturally want to reciprocate, perhaps by way of making introductions. In addition, by helping people in your network, your network gets stronger, which can make them more capable of helping you in the future. Make relevant and mutually beneficial introductions for your contacts. Share your advice, expertise, or feedback. Share information such as events, articles or research that they would find helpful. Promote your contacts’ work by sharing it with people you know.

There are some people in my network that consistently send me valuable content and offer introductions to great people. As a result, I’m always looking for ways to reciprocate. There are also people that I have made several introductions and they eventually find a great referral opportunity for me.

Ask for introductions

Sometimes people simply need to be reminded of what you’re looking for and prompted to do so. Ask people you know for introductions to people in an industry, at specific companies, in a certain role or even specific people you’d like to meet. Use LinkedIn to identify individuals you would like to meet and see if you have any shared connections. Send your shared connection a brief email explaining why the introduction would be mutually beneficial and asking if they would feel comfortable doing so.

There have been several times where people I understand who I would benefit from being introduced to but don’t until I find someone on LinkedIn that they’re connected to and ask them directly for an introduction. They may have forgotten about the other person in their network, or not have been actively looking for opportunities, but when they get an email from me with a specific ask, they feel inclined to do so.

Follow up

It’s not uncommon for emails to get lost or forgotten about. Send a very brief email responding to the unanswered email reiterating your ask. Following up also shows that you’re really interested in getting the introduction. The worst that can happen when following up is that your contact says no or doesn’t respond again.

I met someone once and ignored their first email, but because he followed up, I accepted his offer to re-connect. Since then we’ve helped each other tremendously by exchanging several great introductions.

Make it easy

For the introducer, asking the other person if it’s ok to make the introduction and actually making the introduction can be quite time consuming. When you ask someone for an introduction over email, make the email “forwardable.” Explain why the introduction would be beneficial to the person you’re being introduced and include a brief bio of yourself and your company. This enables the introducer to simply forward your email without writing a new one. The more time consuming or difficult someone perceives a task as being the more likely they are to postpone it or ignore it. By making it easy for someone to make a referral for you, you increase the likelihood of getting the referral.

Mike Fishbein is the author of the book “Business Networking: How to Build an Awesome Professional Network” and an entrepreneur in New York City. You can connect with him at twitter.com/mfishbein.

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Category: Entrepreneurship