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5 Forbidden Referral Mistakes

by Bill Cates

While I usually like to keep my message positive and upbeat, sometimes we need to be reminded of things we shouldn’t be doing.


During my coaching sessions with advisors, consultants, and business owners, here are a few of the most prevalent mistakes I see related to referrals and introductions.


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PLEASE Don’t Make These Mistakes


Don’t wait for referrals to come to you.


Between 10-20% of your clients will give you referrals without asking for them. This is good. This is a barometer of your good relationships.


Another 20% will never give you referrals.


The gold mine you are sitting on is the 60% that need to be asked. Your exponential growth will come from proactivity.


DO be proactive!



Don’t tell clients you get paid through referrals.


When you make referrals part of how you get paid, you set up an obligation that is off putting to many people and will often reduce your referability.


DO make the referral process all about the value of your work.



Don’t badger clients for referrals.


While it’s fine to ask clients for referrals more than once throughout your relationship, don’t overdo it. There are still people who will tell you, “Ask for referrals all the time, every time, wherever you are.” Don’t believe them. Don’t be needy.


DO be appropriately proactive.



Don’t wing it when you ask for referrals.


If you always wing it when you talk to your clients about referrals, you’ll usually lack the confidence and preparation necessary to achieve good results. Create a pre-appointment routine where you think about what you’re going to say, as well what specific people or categories you might suggest.


DO think ahead. Do come prepared.



Don’t forget about referrals.


Forgetting is usually a sign of lower confidence or not having a system to remind you. Maybe you don’t always ask for referrals at every meeting, but you’ll always want to check in with your clients about the state and value of the relationship and plant a referral seed.


So always work from an agenda and put the words “value discussion” or “value check in” or “communication review” near the end. You’ll never forget again.


DO use an agenda to run your meetings.



Don’t settle for just referrals.


Referrals are no longer enough. You need to turn them into solid introductions. Your referral source needs to help you get your foot in the door. Make it a collaborative process. Say to your client, “Let’s see if we can craft an introduction to George that feels comfortable for both you and him and piques his interest in hearing from me.”


DO upgrade referrals into introductions.



What are your Do’s and Don’ts with referrals and introductions? What questions do you have?  I want to hear from you!  Really!  Let’s start a conversation and “share the wealth” of ideas.  Please leave a comment or question below.


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(Los Angeles, CA)






Do you find it challenging to…

  • Get unsolicited referrals?
  • Ask for referrals/introductions without feeling uncomfortable? 
  • Get prospects to return your calls and emails?  
  • Confidently communicate your value in a way that turns ideal prospects into clients? 
  • Get introductions from key Centers of Influence?
  • Maximize social event marketing?

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