We all want more referrals. We go to great lengths to chase them through meetings, networking events, and giving others lots of referrals, but we often don’t get any back. Why are those we’re working so hard to help not returning the favour? Because not everybody thinks like you do.
So what can you do? You’re already doing the right thing by creating opportunities for others. The issue is not that the people in your networks don’t want to help, it’s simply that helping you isn’t part of their thought process. They are far too busy focusing on their own needs and objectives.
There is a small, yet powerful adjustment you can make to change this. It all comes down to process. If there is a clear plan in place for your partners to follow in order to generate referrals for you, you no longer have to rely on them being in the right mindset to consider you.
So what does this look like? You need to ‘frame’ the conversations with your referral partners. The conversation needs detail and specifics around how the other person can help YOU. Without this, you’ll continue to give them referrals and receive nothing in return.
The best approach is to have more formal conversations. Make a list of all the people you’ve given referrals to in the last 12 months (they all have the ability to return the favour). Once the list is in place, identity the top 5-10 as the people to have a conversation with.
A tactful way to frame the conversation could be like this example. “I love being able to find new opportunities for you, but I had the thought to become more like referral partners, whereby I’m finding you referrals, and you’re finding me referrals as well, so we’re both helping each other’s business to grow”. Until you have that conversation, nothing changes. You need to make them realise this is very much win-win.
Don’t rely on the “hope and luck” approach. This is not how a viable partnership works. When your referral partners know you’ll only work with them in an equal, fair and genuine partnership, then they’ll do so. Set the agenda. Unless you do so, the one-way street scenario will wear thin and the relationship (which was never really benficial to you anyway) will dissolve.
As with everything, it’s about having a structure and a process in place. With this in place, you set the tone for how the partnership needs to work and when you do, all of the effort you put in is returned back to you.