How To Give and Get Great Referrals

How about that feeling when a colleague sends you a new referral? Great, eh? Referrals are so much more than new business; they’re also a sign of trust. That’s why we need to treat our referrals with such care.

But what happens when you discover a referral isn’t so good… or is downright wrong for you?

During the past few months, I’ve been on both ends of this interaction. It can be awkward for all three parties.

It comes down to expectations. The referrer sets certain expectations when they make the referral – and they can be about any number of things, including prices and turnaround time.

Unfortunately, the referrer may not know the business they are referring to has changed their offering – so it no longer meets those expectations. Disappointment abounds.

How to receive good referrals

A good friend once told me how important it is to keep my potential referrers informed about changes in my business. Every couple of years, I’ve been in the habit of writing an email to these wonderful people to keep them updated. And also to ask about changes in their business. While doing this may seem all about you, your referrers will be glad for the specifics.

How to be a good referrer

Another way to avoid this uncomfortable situation is to inquire before making the referral. Contact the person you’re referring and ask if they are taking on new customers and if they are still offering whatever you are referring them for. Also, find out about pricing if that matters.

In response to this article in my last newsletter, Jill Poulton, Transformational Leadership Coach, made this suggestion:

In terms of tips for referrals… I prefer to give and receive referrals that are a warm introduction by way of email. This better positions each of us to follow up, it builds trust and credibility with the person giving the referral, and gives the client and potential business some info to move forward on.

Whether we are the receiver of the referral or the one doing the referring, our reputation is at stake. A poor referral is worse than none at all.