Whenever you make any sales pitch, chances are very high that at that point in time they will not be actively looking for your type of products or services. In fact, they may not even be aware at all that they have potential problems or needs in the areas you can help them with. And no matter how memorable your interactions with them are, the reality is that a few weeks later, they may not remember you.

The best sort of help any businessperson needs is the chance to have what is referred to as an “inbound referral” – when someone contacts your “referral partner” looking for a recommendation – and you are referred right at the prospect’s point of need. He/she is actively looking for help in your area – and the referrer’s opinion is more needed, because it was the potential client whosought and initiated the contact.

But what do you do if you aren’t necessarily front of mind for your “referral partners”? They may not give you a particularly strong referral.In order to get these referrals – the most valuable ones – you must be front of mind with your referral partners when they receive the call.

How do you achieve this? Here are 5 ideas.

You invest in and nurture the relationship. You may not be able to work with them daily or meet them every week – but you can keep in touch and you can add value to them with every interaction.Smart sellers adopt a variety of tactics to overcome this – be it a call, a meeting, a useful article clipped and sent, or an email newsletter. Make each meeting or interaction a chance to prove your worth. Each interaction is designed to add value to the customer/prospect and to strengthen the relationship. Done well, these approaches have a huge payoff.

Make sure you’re connected on social media. Social media has its disadvantages, but in a busy world, it has created a quick, easy and effective way to stay in touch with people. It’s not just a question of connecting on LinkedIn or following people on Twitter, after all, Connecting is not enough. But that’s the start. Update your pages with your latest offering, products and services. Connect and follow where appropriate but the key step is to engage. ‘Like’ and comment on status updates, job changes and forum posts. You can stay in sight and in mind even when you don’t see them in person for a long period of time.Like, comment and share with your prospects. Prove yourself relevant.

Thank referral partners daily for their help. We must never take the favours they do for us for granted. The referrer helps you survive in business. In the age of digital and intense competition, they have lots of options and can easily choose to go somewhere else if they feel their patronage and referrals are being taken for granted. Thanking them also reminds them that “you’re still around – waiting with hopeful anticipation.”

Invite them out and meet up.Whatever you do, nothing beats personal contact. Where the opportunity arises and it’s practical, make time in your diary to see people in person. If you’re travelling, work out who you know en route or at your destination you should catch up with. Before you head out to the next networking event or conference, ask yourself who else you can invite. It’s a great way to catch up with people without adding the extra meeting in your diary. And if they know no-one else there, you become their host, drawing you closer together.

Pick up the phone.It’s easy to get carried away by the ability to e-communicate quickly. If you can’t meet in person, speaking in person certainly makes a difference. Even in a quick phone call you can cover more depth, understand more from tone and pitch and ask more questions that you are likely to do over email or social networks. Just remember to ask if it’s a good time to speak. We can wait to reply to emails when it suits us but can’t always do the same with phone calls.