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Jacky Sherman

The Consultant's Consultant

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Networking Myths: You Must Refer People In Your Group

And they have to refer you ...


Posted by Jacky Sherman on 03/07/2024 @ 8:00AM

Often when I meet people and get talking about networking they will tell me a story about the networking group they joined where another member sidled up to them after their first meeting and said "now you're in the group you have to refer me!" What an extraordinary thing to say to a perfect stranger ...

Motivate your networking group to want to refer you because they don't have to!

Motivate your networking group to want to refer you because they don't have to!

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So let's untangle that myth. If you're anything like me as soon as someone tells me I have to do something I react by thinking "when hell freezes over!"

"You have chosen to run your own business and
you don't have to do anything!"

However, if you want to be successful you would be wise to choose to do certain things. This holds true with networking. You choose who you work with, when you will refer them and to whom.

So where do some people get the impression that they have a right to your referral just because you go to breakfast/lunch/supper in the same group as them?

Well, some groups do have a policy that to be a member you must contribute to the group. The best ones do this to encourage the behaviours that will give you a return on your investment.

"Unless you contribute to the success of others
why should they bother to help you?"

For some groups this policy goes deeper when they offer you a 'lock out' membership. This means that no-one else offering your services can join the group.

Think of this as a contract between you and the group. You contribute inward and, in return, you get sole rights to promote your services to the other members. If you don't contribute inward, then the group has a right to ask you to leave so that they can invite someone who does. Equally if you're not getting a return on your investment why would you stay? You choose.

Where the muddled thinking comes in is when people apply this general rule 'contribute to the group' to themselves as individuals, as in "you have to refer me."

You cannot abdicate your responsibility to be referable to people in the group whether it's a lock out or not.

"When you think about it would you
want it any other way?"

For each of you, your business relationships are the most important asset in your business and should not be given away lightly. Maintaining those good relationships always takes precedence and to ensure the people you know continue to trust you, you will only recommend the person who you believe is best able to help them.

So you will want to get to know, like and trust each of the other people in your networking groups before referring them and equally they will do the same with you.

Lastly, remember that even if you develop a great relationship, not everyone will know the sort of people you want to meet. The art of getting referrals is to make it easy for people to refer you.

Putting people under pressure does not motivate them to want to help you. So when asking for help ensure the other person can actually help otherwise you will get the worst outcome of all: a bad referral.

With the best intentions - or worst still, cynically - people will refer you to people who are never going to buy from you. This type of game playing wastes everybody's time and damages all reputations. It also damages the reputation of the group. So everyone loses.

"You may buy your place at the table, but you earn the help you get from the others around it!"

My Referral Tip this week is to motivate people to want to refer you:

  • Pick your networking groups wisely. Visit a few networking groups where people go regularly. Choose one to join where there are people looking for similar sorts of clients as you.

  • Get to know the people in the group well by having one to one meetings with them. Start with those who want to meet similar clients to you. It will be easier to refer each other.

  • Only refer those people who can offer the best service or product to your clients and contacts.

  • Make sure that you are referable in return.

  • If someone in a group you have joined attempts to pressure you into referrals stating "you have to" be charitable as they may have misunderstood. Suggest you get to know each other first.

Until next time ...



Would you like to know more?

You can get a wealth of tips on generating business by referrals delivered each week to you. All you have to do is subscribe to my blog by filling out the form at the top this page. If you'd prefer more personal help, it may be a great idea to give me a call on 07970 638857. Let's have an initial chat over a coffee and see how I can help you.

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