Assessing Your “Referability” Factor
Do you need new customers or clients but can’t seem to get enough of them? People generally want to make referrals when they can. It feels good to be able to connect those who can help with those who need that help. But, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. We’re all busy, faced with too much on our plate and not enough hours in the day, so the more painless you can make it, the greater your chances of getting the referrals you want.
Here are four key questions to ask yourself to test the strength of your “referability.”
Before LinkedIn, it was easy to lose touch with people as they moved around and changed companies. And despite the fact LinkedIn has over 50 million members, there are still a great number of professionals still not on it.
Last year a friend asked for a recommendation to a commercial banker in New York City for a real estate deal he was putting together. The only one I knew had worked at one bank but had subsequently moved to another. Although he did send out updated contact information, it never made it into my address book. When I couldn’t find him on LinkedIn, I couldn’t make the referral.
Being easily reachable is a necessary, but by no means sufficient, condition. Your business card in someone’s desk drawer or a connection to them via social media is not enough. The next three questions are even more crucial.
Is your elevator pitch clear? Do your contacts really understand what you do? Not what your title is, but what problems you can help solve? By leading with your title as opposed to your solution, you lose people because they have either no idea, or an inaccurate idea, of what it means. Instead, focus on relaying the benefits of what you do so nothing gets lost in the translation.
3) Do they know whom to tell?
Have you clearly described your target customer? This is where job titles may come in handy. Talk specifically about the kinds of people who are involved in the decision to hire you as well as the kinds of companies. Give examples of both job titles (e.g., “I usually work with the vp of marketing”) and company names (e.g., “Consumer technology companies like Dell, Iomega, and HP)
Once they have all of this information, the big question is will they act on it when they see an opportunity? This comes down to two things. First is their belief in the quality of your work. Because your contacts put their reputations on the line when they make recommendations on your behalf, they have to know that you’re the best person for the job. Second is the strength of your relationship. Have you developed enough rapport so they’d want to take the time to help you?
I’ve said in Smart Networking that you don’t need a huge Rolodex if you have a responsive one. In next week’s post we’ll talk about more about point #4 and how you can build closer bonds with people you meet right from the start of a relationship so when opportunities come along, they think of you first and make the referral.