Four Habits to Get More Referrals
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In the early days of my consulting business I regularly taught in-person classes. I distinctly remember one class that was held in a classroom of a financial advisor’s office. Three of the advisors in that office participated in the course, one of whom was the senior partner. Mary Ellen was an esteemed advisor and at the time had been in the industry for more than 20 years. She always sat in the front row and was eager to learn new approaches and strategies for referral marketing.
One day, Mary Ellen reflected on her very early days of training where she remembered being told by her seniors, “Success in this industry is all about activity, activity, activity!” I challenged her by saying, “Activity for activity sake is just keeping busy. Success is more about the right activity.” She looked me in the eye and said, “I wish I would have known you 20 years ago. There’s no telling where my business would be now!”
Here are four habits to incorporate into your daily routine that will trigger referral activity.
- Stay visible
- Teach others to refer you
- Build your network
Let’s face it. If people aren’t thinking about you, then you hardly stand a chance to come to mind when they encounter someone who needs exactly what you provide. Keeping yourself top of mind with people is an important component to getting more referrals. When you stay visible, you significantly increase your chances of being referred. Each week identify who you need to be in front of in some way. That could include clients, centers of influences (COIs), friends, family, neighbors, club members, etc. Due to COVID, you might find yourself staying visible through social media via LinkedIn, Facebook, or Zoom. One client of mine has held small, back yard, socially distanced patio parties to help her stay visible to a local group of women she wanted to nurture for future prospects.
Studies have proven that clients and COIs don’t refer because they can’t recognize the opportunity for you or don’t think they know anyone who needs you. You can fix that problem by teaching clients, COIs and others how to refer you effectively. Some of my clients are meeting with people once a week, at least, to spend time teaching them what they need to know. When done correctly, this activity directly engages the person in your referral process. Each meeting typically generates potential prospects and a collaborative plan for that individual to initiate the introduction. This activity should happen regularly and consistently to be most effective. And yes, right now, for some they are conducting this meeting via Zoom.
Making a commitment to build your network provides you with an ever-developing group of people to leverage for referrals, connections and opportunities. Think of it this way. According to research by Columbia University, the average person knows 600 people. Every new person that you connect to theoretically has 600 connections behind them. That is a staggering number when you think of how many new people you can meet in a month if you put your mind to it. An avid networker doesn’t stop networking just because of COVID. An avid networker gets creative and hosts Zoom happy hours to bring people together, invites people to their patio for a small socially distanced gathering or plans outdoor walks, bike rides, or kayak trips with new people they meet through local social media groups.
- Give to others
Giving to others in your network helps to ensure that the good things you deserve or desire will come to you. You can’t expect to receive anything if you’re not giving to the people in your network in some way. From the referral perspective, you will receive what you to give. For example, if you give connections instead of prospect opportunities, chances are you will receive more connections instead of prospect opportunities. If you invite people to attend your virtual happy hours, you will likely get invited to attend other happy hours or similar events. You must give before you expect to receive.
My clients adopt these four habits and influence referral activity. Do you need to increase your visibility on social media? Who hasn’t seen your face or heard your voice in a long time? What client, COI or family member needs to learn how to refer you effectively? What activity can you plan to help you network and meet some new people, keeping COVID in mind? Who can you focus on giving to this week?
Take an inventory of your activity.
Michelle R. Donovan is a referral/business coach, speaker and partner at Productivity Uncorked LLC, a coaching firm that specializes in helping financial advisors increase their referrals and get more done in their day. Michelle has written a Wall Street Journal Best Selling book, The 29% Solution (published in seven languages) and an Amazon Best Selling book, A Woman’s Way: Empowering Female Financial Advisors to Authentically Lead and Flourish in a Man’s World. Email Michelle at [email protected] or connect with her on LinkedIn.