A few years ago, I hosted a seminar on referrals, which was televised across the U.S. During the live broadcast, Paul, an advisor from the Midwest, expressed frustration at trying to grow his practice by asking for introductions.
“I ask my clients about people they know who could use my help,” he said. “But it feels awkward, and then my clients start to feel awkward and I get put off.”
“Who gets awkward first?” I asked.
“Well, I guess I do,” was his response. “But it’s because I know they are going to feel uncomfortable.”
“Did it occur to you that maybe they get uncomfortable because you’re feeling awkward and that your discomfort actually triggers theirs?” I asked.
“I never considered that,” he admitted.
We then went through three steps Paul could take to diffuse the discomfort of asking for referrals:
1. Start your meetings by giving clients (verbally or in writing) an agenda which includes, as a final item, a discussion about friends, associates and family members you might be able to help. Don’t surprise them with a sudden request at the end of an appointment. If a client is uncomfortable with this agenda item, give her a chance to tell you why before you discuss this important subject. For example: