Somebody asked the other day. “Why do you need referrals?” The question caused me to stop and think for a moment before replying. Obviously, everybody who is in business wants referrals. It is a great way to generate new business, as we are already “pre-approved” because of the recommendation received. But there is more to it. When we give a referral, it projects a good amount of trust for the person and his or her business that we refer to someone else. And that trust needs to have a foundation; we either have done business with that person, or we know him or her personally. S/he has proven to us that s/he follows up on our referrals, and/or that s/he is dependable and has integrity.
I love networking, and I always wear my “networking cap.” But I have learned that there are leads and referrals. A lead is generated when we meet someone who has a need and we know of someone else who might fill that need; we then pass that someone’s contact information to the person who has the need. A quality referral is bringing both parties together by firstly being very knowledgeable about each party’s business, and secondly, by taking the time to contact the other party and inform him or her about the need to be filled.
Wikipedia defines a referral as: “To refer a person is to personally recommend, endorse, and pass them to a qualified professional or service that can serve their need, often including informing both parties of said recommendation and/or endorsement.”
I work hard on helping my networking peers generate business. There is no more desirable way of doing business than by quality referrals.