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

A: Acquiring referrals is important, but gaining a warm introduction, or bridge, is even better. You must have a clear plan and a consistent process in place in order to get these introductions from clients and prospects. To get more advice on how to get these warm introductions, I turned to Richard Weylman, founder of The Weylman Center for Excellence in Practice Management, an online university for financial professionals in the affluent market.

Here’s his advice:

o Create an action plan to log the steps that you will take to begin the introductions process so that you’re not just getting referrals but you’re following up properly.

o When should you ask for referrals?

  1. When you close the sale and
  2. when you deliver the policy. For multi-line agents, I would add
  3. when you gain their account or
  4. when you conduct a review.

o Adjust your mindset. Expect referrals and warm introductions to bridge you to qualified people.

o Always send a thank-you note to anyone who provides an introduction. This is critically important because it keeps that person “in the know,” and he can continue to influence those he has already introduced you to. You want to send a thank-you note for the referral and for the introduction–not a gift, just a thank-you note. That’s all that’s required.

o Start managing your calendar four to five weeks in advance so you know the days when you can play golf, go to lunch or take prospects to sporting/cultural/theater events. Allocate at least 20 to 30 percent of your week to these marketing activities. This is useful in your networking activities as well. It is critical that you spend more time outside your four walls building your business with the clients you want to replicate.

o Always provide your clients with a list of people you have pre-qualified and want to meet in your vertical market. Start creating lists of 15 now (see last month’s column) and then invest in services to assist you. Hire a marketing intern or a high school student to help you find information on your best markets, create a list of 15 people for potential introductions for every vertical market, research the list thoroughly to be sure they’re qualified and help organize your calendar so you can hold events where you can invite the people you want to meet.