You know I am against asking for referrals. At the same time, I recognize the need for a referral strategy to keep your practice growing. There are a number of ideas I included in a presentation I recently did at FPA Business Solutions 2011, and others came out of a think tank I facilitated in conjunction with that conference, and I will write about them in coming weeks. One of the best ideas I have heard was presented in one of the sessions at that conference by Sam Richter of ActiFi, in a program he called Know! More Referrals – Using Technology To Generate More Prospects And Land More Clients.
Richter’s point is that we can in be introduced to more potential clients if we do our homework before meeting with friends and clients who can make those introductions. He calls research the fourth R of our education, to follow ‘readin ‘ritin and ‘rithmetic.
Over the course of an hour, Sam covered a dozen different ways to use clever Internet research to find specific people with whom to connect, and then to find their common connections to us. Once you know someone who knows your prospects, asking them for an introduction is natural and comfortable. It is simple networking. It connects you with someone specific you have qualified as a prospect, and it relieves your connection of the responsibility of coming up with the idea and sending you to that person unsolicited.
Our challenge has traditionally been figuring out who to be introduced to as potential clients. Not knowing who you wanted to meet is a significant contributor to the discomfort of the dysfunctional way we have traditionally been told to ask for referrals. The new web tools available to us help eliminate that challenge. Once we know who we want to meet, asking for an introduction is a natural comfortable process that bypasses most of the problems with old-school referral strategies. Embracing the fourth R elevates us from sales rep to professional networker.