Sales & Marketing

14 ways to generate more referrals via business networking (Part 1)

3 min read

22 October 2011

In the first of a two-part series, networking queen Heather Townsend offers tips for generating referrals when you're out networking.

1. Invest in the relationship

Referrals only come from people who know you and like you and feel they have some kind of connection with you. Spend time helping other people and strengthening the relationships with your networking and referrals will come your way.

2. Ask for a referral

By this, I don’t mean being aggressive and saying “will you buy my service or product?”, I mean by asking the person you’re talking to, “Who do you know who would be interested in my product or service?”

3. Find out what is stopping them referring you

Often there may be emotional or rational blocks stopping them from referring you. Take your time to demonstrate your credibility plus be very focused on how people can identify your target market. 

4. Remember to thank a referral source

Referrals don’t magically happen. For a referral to have occurred, someone has thought of you and decided to put their own reputation on the line for you. Even if the referral doesn’t go anywhere, the other person has still decided to actively help you and your business.

5. Keep track of your referral sources

Some people will be better at giving you referrals than others. Your challenge is to know who are the “super-referrers” in your network are, so you can focus on being top of mind for them.

6. Refer business on

Very simply, you’re more likely to gain referrals if you start referring business to others. If you are a member of a formal networking club, the best way to unlock referrals from the group is to actively source referrals for other members of the group.

7. Be specific

The more specific you are, the more likely the person you’re talking to will be able to help you. When I speak with great networkers, they always ask, “What can I do to help you?” Have an answer to this question prepared!

So next time you’re out doing some business networking, what are you going to do to generate more referrals?

Read part two of these tips on how to generate more referrals.

Heather Townsend is the founder of The Efficiency Coach, a company that helps professionals achieve better business results for less effort. Follow her Joined Up Networking blog for more useful tips and tricks. She has just been commissioned to write the FT Guide to Business Networking.