Q: How can I increase the number of quality referrals?

A: Acquiring referrals is important, but gaining a warm introduction, or a bridge, is even better. That’s because it enables you to actually reach the referral. To get advice on how to get these introductions, I consulted with Richard Weylman, founder of The Weylman Center, an online university for financial professionals in the affluent market.

He explained that three referrals typically result in one sale. So, the more referrals and introductions you get, the more income you will earn.

Here is the step-by-step process he uses to gain warm introductions to the right prospects.

1. Create a list of prospects in your chosen vertical markets.

2. Find out about these people. Start with the local association/club/organization membership list. Research every name using Internet sources such as hoovers.com, google.com, zapdata.com, dunandbradstreet.com, infousa.com and usadata.com.

3. Divide the list into 15 name groupings by chapter/club or local geographic area. Why 15? Any more is too many. Usually the client wants you to leave the list if it’s that long. I want them to do it while I’m sitting there, not leave it behind. And if I take in only five or 10, there’s always a sense of needing more.

4. When you meet with a client or prospect, present the list of 15 names in their market. “Here are 15 people in your club/industry I would like to meet. Who do you know? Which ones know you?”

5. After they review the list and comment, then ask, “Who have I left off this list?” Be quiet and let them think.

6. Ask for their help to meet the people they know. Be sure to suggest connection ideas. “Be my advisor for a moment–how would you go about meeting these people? Should I coordinate a golf outing or perhaps a breakfast? Better yet, what would you do?”

7. Listen as they review the list for social connections and to learn who likes what. Gently probe to discover more interests they may have. Note these for future invitations and bridging opportunities. These are great prospects that you are fully qualified to do business with.

8. Close the discussion by outlining the next steps (date, location, the invitation). “OK, let’s see, you believe golf is the best for these two people? When are you available and let’s make it a foursome.” Or, “If you believe lunch after the association meeting would work–great! Shall we just make it an outing for all of the people you know? What date works best for you? I would be privileged to have you help me set this up and attend.”