In my last post we explored the power or referrals for consultants. Let’s dig deeper in this post…
The best way to get referrals is to be extremely specific about the kinds of referrals you want.
In my 2nd or 3rd year as a consultant, after returning from consulting with companies in Asia, I went around meeting with different business owners and successful entrepreneurs. I was hungry for information and asked family and friends of anyone I could meet with that they knew who might be interested in my services.
This led to several introductions and meetings. At some point during each meeting the business person I met with would say, “so what can I do to help you? What kinds of clients are you looking for?” I replied by saying that “I’ve worked with companies in all different industries, from technology, financial services, pharmaceutical and more. So I’d be happy to work with any kind of company…..etc”
I was covering all my bases, right? Wrong. In these first couple of meetings when I used this reply it got me nowhere. I mean these business owners were willing to help me, but I was making their offer a very hard one to fulfill.
If you think about this, it makes perfect sense. I wasn’t giving any guidance nor pointing them in the direction I wanted to go. So these guys were left trying to scan through every company they knew – which was hundreds or thousands. Their brains were getting overloaded with information. The result: they shutdown and no referral was given.
Once I understood my mistake I went to my next few meetings with a much more focused list of the kind of companies I wanted to work with. The results were completely different than before. I had made the offer an easy one to fulfill.
Based on our conversation and the kind of clients I really wanted to work with, the business people I met with were able to list a few companies that fit those criteria. Boom, I had some nice introductions!
Developing Your Referral Criteria
To narrow down your criteria you should imagine your ideal client.
- What size is their company? (think revenue and employee count)
- What industry are they in?
- Where are they located?
- What kind of corporate culture do they have?
Using these criteria you can focus down and find the kinds of companies you really want to be introduced to. That way, every time you meet with someone you can ask them if they know of anyone that fits the bill.
Doing this will make it much easier to receive referrals than just leaving it open to the universe. The more specific you can be, the better.
This is an excerpt from our course, The Consulting Success System. To learn more details about how to make referrals work for you and how to become a successful consultant, pick up a copy of the Consulting Success System today.