Simple Key to Referrals

Referrals could be the difference between success and failure for independent contractors and consultants.  Some of my best clients were referred by people in my network but it was not always like that- for a long time I struggled with how to generate referrals.  The turning point for my business was when I realized that my offering was not simple enough; not broadly appealing enough; not clear enough.  

I have written about this in the past but was reminded today when I attempted to refer business to a person I know and like.  Something interesting came across my radar that seemed like a fit for her so I forwarded along with a one word note: "Interested?"  

She quickly replied that it was outside of her wheelhouse. Fair enough.  But this is the third time this has played out between us- me forwarding a lead, her declining- and I was struck by the fact that I might not actually know what she does.  Three different but related leads that she flat out rejected- not even a call with the company to see if she could make it work.  

I take some responsibility here- she has tried to educate me about what she does and I am definitely missing something.  But it could also be that she has not clearly defined what she does or who she does it for.  Or, like the mistake I used to make, her thing might be too specialized, too narrowly defined or too specific.  

Of course, there is room in the world for specialists with narrow focus.  And in those situations, the key is not to expand focus but to be sure you have cultivated a referral network that fully understands what you do and, more importantly, encounters people/companies that need that specialty.  Oral surgeons have a network of referring general dentists.  Marine plumbers have a network of marinas or yacht clubs.  Forest firefighters have a network of rural municipalities and parks.  

The moral here is that in order to garner great referrals, that lead to engagement, the people referring business to you need to know what you do and be connected to people/companies that need that service.  The clearer you can make that message, the more successful you will be.  Simplicity and clarity are great tools, even if your service is technically complex or obscure.  The better you communicate what you do, the easier it will be for people to send you business.  

PS- want to practice your pitch?  Drop me a note and we can jump on a Zoom call for a free 15 minute session.