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Suggest the Right Categories to Trigger Referrals

by Bill Cates

Shall we get super tactical this week? 

In our V.I.P.S. Method for Asking for Referrals™ the “S” stands for Suggest Names & Categories.

The best way to begin your request for introductions – the bullseye – is to suggest specific people you know that your client knows. Either your client mentioned these people at some point, or you did a little detective work.

The next best way to ask – the first ring outside of the bullseye – are categories of people your client knows or might know.

The principle at play here is that we want our referral source to visualize people in their mind’s eye. The more we can get them to picture people, the more likely they will bring them into the conversation.

2 Types of Categories

There are 2 primary types of categories we can use in this brainstorming for possible introductions:

  1. Pre-determined for your business model.

  2. Learn as you go.

Pre-Determined Categories

These are your go-to categories that you can use in most situations, even if you don’t know your prospect or client well.

For financial advisors, these are typically life-event and money-in-motion categories.

Life Event Examples

  • Getting Married
  • Having a Child
  • Buying a New Home

Money in Motion Examples

  • Changing Jobs
  • Inheritance
  • Bonus or Large Commission
  • Sale of Property
  • Sale of Business
  • Liquidity Event

If you are not a financial advisor, think about the types of categories that fit your world. What are people and/or businesses going through that would make the timing right for them to know you?

Learn as You Go Categories

As the name suggests, these are categories of individuals that you learn about as you get to know your prospect or client.

The possibilities for these are endless.

Financial Advisor Examples

  • Close Family Members
  • Business Partners
  • Industry Association Members
  • Business Groups Like Chamber of Commerce
  • Golf or Tennis Partners
  • Study Group or Investment Group
  • Travel Partners

What learn-as-you-go categories are likely to show up in your context?  Be on the lookout for them. A heavy dose of genuine curiosity will be helpful


I have teamed up with several financial professionals to build a Master List of money-in-motion and life-event categories that you can consult before your appointments – to make sure you don’t forget the ones that apply to your prospect or client.

Consider putting the categories you like to use in a written form that you can show to others, to help trigger their memory.

Forward this article to a friend or colleague.

And don’t forget ALL our resources – many of them free – are waiting for you at

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