I often hear, “I don’t receive good referrals. what am I doing wrong?”

If you are one of the first to speak, then you still need to be specific, don’t use generalities. Give examples of what your ideal client is. List a couple of examples of who you would like to work with. Offer some selling points, perhaps you have a special going on or recently won an award. What differentiates you from the competition?

Give first. People like to receive and will often feel good and want to give back. Be careful though, do not give fake leads. There are three types you need to be aware of.

1. Cold lead- this type you have very little information to give. You don’t really know the person, they are a friend of a friend or you read an article that this business was coming to town. You may or may not have a phone number or even the right person to contact. These are fine to give, but clarify that this is a cold lead and how you came about the knowledge. Let the receiver decide if they want to follow up.

2. Warm lead- this type is a bit better. You actually know a service is needed, you know who the contact person is and how to contact them. You just may not be best friends with them. Perhaps you know of them but they really don’t know you. Again be honest tell the person this.

3. Hot lead- is the best kind. This one you actually have called the person looking for the service and you asked them if you could have your friend call them. Both parties know in advance that you would like them to work with each other.

All 3 of these can be used in any situation. The key is to be honest with everyone and offer as much background information as possible.

When you follow up on the referral given to you, make sure you do so in a timely fashion. If I have called my contact to introduce you and you don’t reach out to them for a few weeks, I will be less likely to refer you in the future. Now I look unprofessional. When you give out a referral you are letting the person know based on your reputation that they are good. Be sure and let the person doing the referring know how it went. Good or bad just say thanks, if it wasn’t a good fit let them know and in the future they may be able to get a better idea what you are looking for.

Originally published in the Democrat & Chronicle on August 13th, 2013.