Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Don't Use My Name!

Getting a referral from a friend is great - up until the moment they ask you not to mention their name! All of a sudden your referral is a cold call. Check out this story from business consultant Diane Helbig and remember her advice to make sure you have a good quality referral.

I have a friend - we'll call him Bill. Bill told Ralph that he was targeting CPAs. Ralph said, 'One of my clients is a CPA. Here's his contact info.' So, Bill called the CPA and left a message. A day later Ralph called Bill and asked how it went with the CPA. Bill explained that he had left a message. Then Ralph told Bill that the CPA had called him and asked him not to give his name out anymore. Yikes!

This kind of story is being played out every day all over the world. And the damage it does is deep and wide. My other friend Betty was in a leads group the other day and said she was targeting Human Resource professionals. Roger passed her a lead but had written on it 'don't use my name.' Huh? Don't use my name? Again, this happens daily. 'Roger' doesn't realize the harm he is inflicting - on himself!

How are these referrals? According to the dictionary, a referral is 'a person recommended to someone or for something.' The dictionary definition of 'recommend' is 'to praise or commend to another as being worthy or desirable; endorse.' 'Recommend; worthy; endorse.' Interesting words.

First I'd like to address the damage caused by these actions.

The referrer (and I use the term lightly) damages himself for the following reasons:

--The person he gives the referral to feels that his referrals are empty.
--The person he refers others to becomes unhappy with him.
--People talk and his behavior will be shared with others, thereby damaging his relationships with them.

The person who received the 'referral' is damaged because:

--In the first example he can't approach those referrals again. They have just experienced him in a negative way.
-- Now his pool of referral sources has gotten smaller. He knows now that he can't trust that guy to provide him with quality referrals.
--Getting a referral that says 'don't use my name' is really getting just a name. It's a cold call. He's no better off than he was before.

So let's talk about quality referrals.

The best way to get quality referrals is to be known as someone who gives them. Certain elements must exist in order for a referral to have quality.

They are:
1. You know the person you are going to refer very well.
---You are aware of their professionalism, their performance, their customer service.
---You believe in them completely.
---You would do, or have done, business with them.

2. You know the person you are referring to very well.
---You know what their needs are.
---You know how they feel about being contacted by strangers.
---You know what they look for in a vendor

3. You know the best way to conduct the referral.
---Do you make an introduction?
---Do you contact the person for them?
---Do you provide background information to your associate so they are equipped when approaching?

"Knowing the answers to these items will help you in creating a referral system that works consistently and productively," says Helbig. "Then as you work your system, you'll position yourself as a networking pro. In addition, you'll find you are referred more often because you can be trusted. Did you notice? This system treats everybody fairly and respectfully." Quite a difference from 'don't use my name!'

Diane Helbig is a Professional Coach, and President of Seize This Day Coaching. She works one-on-one and in groups with business owners, entrepreneurs, and salespeople. Visit her website at http://www.seizethisdaycoaching.com

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