How to Create a Process to Get Referrals

This is the blog transcript of our video “How to Create a Process to Get Referrals”. If you’d like to see more of our videos, you can subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

We all want referrals but do you have a process to get them? Last week we talked about why people send you referrals, today we’ll talk about how to create a process to ask for them.

Hey everyone, I’m Ian Campbell, CEO of Mission Suite. Before we jump into today’s video, do me a favor and hit the subscribe button and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos.

I’ve been in business development in various capacities for 20 years now. I’ve used every tactic from cold calling to networking to door-to-door selling to referrals. Believe me when I tell you that closing an opportunity that was referred to you is significantly easier than trying to go out and find them yourself.

But referrals can be pretty hard to come by. If you don’t take control of the process to actually get referrals, then they’re probably too few and far between to really build your business based on them. 

So let’s take a look at two different processes that can help you provide a steady stream of referrals and introductions that can help you grow your business.

First of all, let’s look at your Referral Bench.

Your referral bench is the group of people in your network that you can rely on regularly to help you grow your business. They may be sending you referrals, they may be introducing you to other referral partners.

There are plenty of ways that they might be assisting you, but the key is that you’ve developed a relationship with them and they’ve shown that they’re willing to make introductions.

This network is your go-to group for referrals. Because you already have a relationship with them, most of the heavy lifting is done, you just have to maintain that relationship.

The trouble with any network is that it’s easy to get lost in meetings with people who aren’t necessarily likely to refer you actual business. Not because they don’t want to, usually it’s just because they’re not having the right conversations with the right people.

Does that mean that you shouldn’t maintain your relationship with these people? 

Of course not – they can be hugely valuable to your network as well, you just need to make sure you know how they’re likely to be able to help you.

That leads me to my Referral Bench strategy.

I’m not a huge fan of sports, but I do like baseball. So I think about this in terms of a great baseball team.

First of all, you have your home plate relationships.

Imagine the relationship between a pitcher and a catcher. Every play involves the two of them working together to try to advance their team’s goals.

Your home plate relationships are the people that are talking to the exact same people as you are, and having the same conversations. If I’m talking to a VP of Sales about making their sales team more productive, so are they.

These are the people who are most likely to refer you business because your services are so in line with one another that it just makes sense.

Obviously you want as many of these relationships as possible, so creating this group is hugely valuable. 

And this group deserves a lot of your time. 

These are people that you can get together with once a month or so and be very intentional about how to help one another’s businesses grow.

But this is also going to be your smallest group, so that brings me to your infield relationships.

Your infield is probably going to be the biggest group. They’re the ones that you meet along the way who are having similar conversations with similar target contacts.

I’m talking to VPs of Sales about making their sales teams more productive, maybe they’re a sales recruiter trying to help a VP of Sales grow their sales team.

Sure they’re talking about the same people, but a conversation about productivity tools are less likely to be a part of their conversation.

This is a great group that still deserves plenty of your time and attention, but maybe not quite as much as your home plate relationships. 

These are folks that you’re going to get together with once every few months to help yourself stay top of mind if they do identify a potential referral. And they’re people you’re going to be able to ask for introductions as well.

And depending on your relationship with them, they may end up becoming a home plate relationship – it’s entirely possible and I’ve had that happen on more than a few occasions. 

But the ones that do, they do so because we’ve decided to be intentional during our sales conversations.

And finally, you have your outfield partners. 

The outfield is a bit more of a “catch all” group of people. They’re people you’ve gotten to know who are worth staying in touch with, and they’re worth maintaining a relationship with, but they’re probably not going to be able to help you find new business – or at least not as likely to do so.

Mostly the outfield is useful to help you maintain the other areas of your business network and make sure that you have connections in other aspects of business in case your clients or partners are looking for someone in their field of expertise.

But they can also be really valuable to help you find other infield and other home plate partners.

Remember that these folks are typically really well networked so, if you don’t think they’re going to be able to refer you business directly, maybe they’ll be able to help you find others that can.

We do a webinar on this Referral Bench concept, where we do a deep dive into how to create your referral bench. You can grab the link to jump on to that webinar down in the description.

Do you have some sort of organizational system to help you manage your networking and referral relationships?

If you do, tell us about it in the comments and, while you’re there, give this video a like to let us know that you’re getting some value out of it!

The next process that I want to dive into is one that I call LinkedIn Referral Mining.

This is another one that we do a short webinar on and the registration link is in the description of this video, if you’d like to check it out.

The LinkedIn Referral Mining process is actually pretty straightforward.

You do a search for second connections of specific people that you know who are in your network – preferably ones who have shown that they’re willing to make introductions – and then ask them for an introduction.

But let’s dive a little deeper into this.

We all know just how powerful LinkedIn can be as a networking and business development tool. The sheer volume of connection requests and “follow up” messages that most people get on a weekly basis is evidence of that. 

The problem is that most people are going about it entirely the wrong way.

Now I know that there are a lot of ways to use LinkedIn and I don’t mean to disparage anyone here, but the connection to immediate follow up asking for a meeting just doesn’t really work anymore.

But there’s a method that I’ve used for a long time now that does work – and that’s this LinkedIn Referral Mining process that I’m talking about.

The great thing about the Referral Mining process is that it’s focused on making targeted connections that are coming from people with a mutual connection. Not only does it make the referral more powerful, but it helps reduce the clutter on LinkedIn.

So how do we do this? 

First thing’s first, you have to get yourself to the People search where you can search by all filters. LinkedIn makes this a bit challenging sometimes because of all the changes that they make to their search platform, but usually if you just click into the search box and leave it blank before hitting the enter key, it’ll get you there.

Once you’re there, you can click on All Filters, where you can select 2nd connections and choose the person you want to see the 2nd connections of. You can even filter further by adding keywords that the filter should look for.

Once you build out that filter, you hit the Show Results button and voila! You now have a list of people that this referral partner knows that you don’t that you can comb through and find potential prospects.

This might be tough to visualize, but sign up for the webinar down in the description of this video and you’ll get to see it step by step in action.

Remember that you want to make sure that the person who’s 2nd connections you’re searching is someone you know and can rely on to make an introduction. 

But this can be a great way to find targeted referrals from people you know using one of the most powerful business networking tools out there!

I mentioned a couple different webinars here – one for Referral Bench process and another for the LinkedIn Referral Mining process. The links to register for both of them are in the description below so if you want to know more about how either one of these can work for you, I highly encourage you to check them out!

Also, Phil Pelto, the founder of the B2B networking organization Firestorm, and I have built a podcast called The Referral Bench that provides plenty of insight into how to grow your business through networking and referrals. It’s available pretty much anywhere you listen to podcasts, and the links to the most popular places to listen to it are also in the description.

Hey I hope you got something out of this video. And if you did, go ahead and give it a thumbs up and maybe a share so that others can see it too. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring the bell so that you’re notified whenever we post new videos and while you’re at it, check out these videos too!

We’ll see you next time around!

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