Sunday, February 19, 2012
The Art of Referrals by Pamela Horton
I had the privilege of contributing to a fellow muse Kathy McAfee's, “America’s Marketing Motivator”, www.networkingahead.com blog. She asked me what my thoughts were on the value of referral partners. I enjoyed sharing my insights for creating and managing referral partner relationships and thought I would share them here with you.
My thought process when referring business always involves what is best for the individual that has asked for the referral.Whether they are looking for a massage therapist, plumber, real estate, or health insurance agents, I provide them with several options. I am comfortable providing the referrals because I have seen the professionals in action. Your referral list should be thorough, yet never overwhelming. After permission is granted by the requestor, I send out an email to the listed professionals stating interest in their services and wish, “may the best person win!” I make it known to all the professionals that I am connected to that this is how I practice the art of referring. I am upfront and honest so that there is no room for interpretation or hard feelings. I created several networking groups emphasizing my philosophy and none of the members have taken issue with my practice. Shopping for a professional service provider is like buying a pair of jeans, you have to make sure “they fit”. Ultimately, it is not my job, to determine who fits whom. That decision resides between client and provider. This is the primary reason I provide more than one option.
I consider myself to be a hub of professional services, a role that I truly enjoy. I am able to be a knowledgeable, resourceful, service provider to all those I come in contact with. I follow up with the client afterwards and ask for feedback. Feedback not only on the “winner” of the account, but on all those that decided to put their hat into the ring as well. I share with them what I learned for their own personal and professional development and ask for the same in return. At the end of any given day, our reputation is paramount. As I tell my 14 year old daughter, we are whom we hang out with. Choose your colleagues wisely, listen to your gut and research the options that you provide to others. It is imperative that I continue to explore the referred that I am sending business to. Don’t just research them once, but research them often, as things change and the information that you provide to your client who is shopping, should be accurate in fairness to all.
Some professionals pay for referrals. This is not a driving force for me. The most important factors to me include: providing a great service, doing the right thing for my colleague (the person or company shopping AND the referral source), while remaining true to my core being.
Affinity Marketing Specialist
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