Asking for referrals and introductions makes most of us uncomfortable. But think about it. If you’ve had a great experience working with someone, it’s really satisfying to refer that person to a friend or colleague. It’s even more rewarding when your colleague, too, finds value and thanks you for having made the connection.
So how do you ask for a referral without being pushy or sounding desperate?
First, it’s helpful acknowledge your appreciation for the referrer. Something like: “You know, Joe, I really enjoy our work together. In particular, I appreciate the way you rally the troops to tackle big challenges…”
Then follow with “the ask.” The key is to ask in a way that encourages them to think of a specific person and give you specific name. Here are five ways to ask.
1. The Basic:
Who do you know that should know about me?
2. The Acknowledgement:
Who do you know who, like you, [compliment, aspiration]? Example: “Who do you know who, like you, has built a successful, fast-growing company and might need someone like me to…?”
3. The Challenge:
“When we first started working together you were experiencing [problem]. Who do you know that has a similar challenge who may want to meet me and learn more about how to achieve similar results?”
“Who do you know who may be curious about the type of customized training program we’ve designed for you?”
5. The Breakthrough:
“You really achieved a significant breakthrough recently when we worked together on [project]. Who do you know who may seek a similar breakthrough?”
The next step is to ask them if they would be willing to make an introduction via email or phone. When they say yes, make it really easy for them. Send a brief one-paragraph introduction that highlights the types of problems you solve and results you deliver.
Before the introduction, be sure to ask the referrer what you should know about that person. Any information you can glean to help “break the ice” in your first call will result in more rapid rapport, and a higher probability of success.
What have you found works best to seek referrals from your colleagues and satisfied clients?
Share your ideas or experiences in the Comments section of this blog.
About the Author:
Kate Purmal is COO of an early stage stealth cell therapy company. She also serves as a consultant, advisor and business coach to CEOs, executives, and entrepreneurs. Previously Kate served as a Senior Vice President at SanDisk, the CEO of the software joint venture U3, and led the product team that designed and launched the PalmPilot.