In this post, I outline how to make great referrals that result in great business. Here are four ways to make and give great referrals.

1. Have a good understanding of what both parties want. Over the years I have received well-intentioned referrals only to discover that the person I was referred to had little or no need for my services. In today’s well-connected, social media world, it is not uncommon to provide a referral to someone who is not appropriate. And this only wastes the time of everyone involved. If you want to give great referrals, you should have an excellent understanding of two things:

  1. What the person whom you’re referring actually does and how they can help the other party.
  2. What the person to whom you are making the referral actually needs with respect to a potential solution.

2. Give a heads up. Before you send an email to connect or introduce two people (or companies) you should give the person whom you are referring a heads up and offer them some background information on the other party. This leads me to the next point…

3. Supply context and background detail. I recently received an email from someone who introduced me to a decision-maker but his email was unannounced and it offered little information about the company to whom I was being referred. In contrast, I later received an email from another person who described the situation his contact was experiencing and how he thought I could help. An approach that I have found to be effective is to call the person you plan to refer and describe the other party’s situation. During this conversation you can figure out if the person you want to refer is actually the best person to solve your contact’s problem before you make the introduction.

4. Make sure your introduction is well written. Several of the referral emails I have received were poorly written. They contained spelling mistakes or typos. They referenced previous conversations that only two of the three people were privy to. They didn’t outline how the prospect could benefit by meeting the referred party. And they didn’t contain enough information to compel me (or my new potential prospect) to take action on the referral.

Referrals are good things, but to make them great, take the time to make your effort count.

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