The only referrals that matter are the good ones. Sounds like a no-brainer statement. However, too many people don’t get it. It’s my belief that their thought process is slightly mixed up. They either think that offering a referral (regardless of its quality) will make them look good, or they think if they offer one they’ll get one in return. Either way, it is a bad idea. When you give garbage you do real damage to your brand and your reputation. Not only will people stop trusting you, but they won’t give you any referrals. They use your behavior as an indicator of how you’d treat their friend/client/neighbor/family member. No one would willingly take that risk.

One example of a bad referral is offering up someone’s name and contact information before you’ve checked to make sure it’s okay with them. This is, of course, a trust issue. Before you share your client’s information – or anyone else’s for that matter, make sure you have their permission. No one likes getting unsolicited calls. And the best way to anger someone is to give out their phone number without their knowledge. Imagine how you’d react if the tables were turned and you were receiving the call.

The best way to solve this is to make the introduction yourself. You can reach out to your client and tell them you know someone who may be able to help them. Would it be okay for you to pass on their information? Or better yet, once you get their permission, actually make the introduction. You can do this via email so everyone hears the same thing. There can be no miscommunication this way.

If you are in a referral group, don’t think you can pass a referral and follow it up by saying ‘don’t use my name.’ I’ve actually seen this happen. It amazed me at the time, and still does. Don’t use my name? If you do this you have no idea the harm you are inflicting on yourself! Do you really want to be labeled as the person who never gives a good lead? I don’t think so! The only reason someone would behave this way is to appear as being giving. Unfortunately, the exact opposite becomes true. They appear to be useless. People talk; word travels fast. These people are quickly viewed as not really giving or interested in helping others. Once you get a bad reputation, you’re sunk. No one will give you a referral because you aren’t worthy of it.

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.

So the other side of this equation is the damage that is done to the person who received the ‘referral.’

- 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.

a. You are aware of their professionalism, their performance, their customer service.

b. You believe in them completely.

c. You would do, or have done, business with them.

2. You know the person you are referring to very well.

a. You know what their needs are.

b. You know how they feel about being contacted by strangers.

c. You know what they look for in a vendor.

3. You know the best way to conduct the referral.

a. Do you make an introduction?

b. Do you contact the person for them.
c. 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. 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.

Author's Bio: 

Diane Helbig is an internationally recognized business and leadership development coach, author, speaker, and radio show host. As a certified, professional coach, president of Seize This Day Coaching, Diane helps businesses and organizations operate more constructively and profitably. Diane is the author of Lemonade Stand Selling, and the host of Accelerate Your Business Growth Radio show.