Referrals are essential to any business. You might currently be seeking referrals to grow your business while others may be seeking referrals for new career opportunities. In either case, it is important to have and give referrals that are of value.
So how exactly does one do that? Well, start by building a network of value. It’s never too early or too late to build a valuable network. What is your goal in building a network? If your goal is to get something for yourself, you’ll work hard and create virtually no goodwill. The key is to learn how serve others instead of yourself. A natural relationship will progress from their and others will see how you can be of service to them in return.
Next, be someone who is referable. In other words, deliver exceptional value and results to your existing customers. You might have the best referral sources in the world. But, if you don’t deliver great results for your clients, then the word will spread fast. Doing a great job for existing customers is the best way to earn referrals. This holds true whether you are seeking a potential customer or a potential employer. If you were a bad employee, the new potential employer might not be interested if the word on the street is that you don’t do good work. It's simple, do great work, and referrals come easily.
Be sure to also consider that a referral is often just a way to connect two people. What is often implied sounds like, “Here is Maria's contact information. Feel free to harass them from now until the end of time.” On the other hand, a personal introduction comes from someone who has seen your work and feels it could benefit the other party: “We were facing XYZ challenge and it was costing us a fortune. Maria's company was able to solve the problem and even provided us with some extra resources. Seems like you could benefit from a conversation with her to see if she could help you in a similar way.” In the example of the personal introduction, the connection is of mutual interest to both parties. Your connection should be mutually beneficial to both parties and not just one sided. Remember when you refer someone it isn't just about them it is a representation of yourself as well.
Lastly, where you find referrals matters. If you are looking to grow your network and connect with people who may potentially refer you start with a good source like a well known networking group. Consider something like The Savvy Networker. It has a reputation for drawing a crowd, and offers several benefits including, private referral meetings, an online directory, events in multiple cities and even memberships for convenience.