Branding expert Dick Bruso has developed the Power Referral Program®. His system is premised on the belief that people do business with you for four reasons. Because:
- They trust you.
- They like you.
- You are competent in your area of expertise.
- You have integrity.
Here’s how Bruso’s Power Referral Program® works:
- Create a list of ten people you love and who love you regardless of whether they are in the business you are trying to reach. Select those who trust you, like you, and believe that you’re competent and have integrity. It’s all about mutual respect.
- Meet with each of them individually.
- Tell them the types of overall markets you want to penetrate. For example, sole proprietors, small businesses, corporations, partnerships, nonprofit organizations, or educational institutions.
- Then zero in more deeply. Identify the specialty areas you want to reach such as financial services, healthcare, human resources, or computer technology. If you are in the financial services industry, state that you want referrals in banking, investing, financial planning, insurance, real estate, and so on.
- Know the positions of the people you want to meet and ask your contacts if they know people in those positions who could help your business move forward. For example, tell them that you would like to meet the decision makers such as CEOs, CFOs, purchasing agents, or human resource supervisors? When in doubt, go to the top person. The more specific you are about your targets, the better off you will be. For example, explain that you want to reach small businesses, single proprietors, corporations, governments, nonprofits, or educational institutions.
Bruso stresses that it’s essential to clearly identify whom you wish to meet, because your contact may know someone who fits the bill. Unfortunately, most people are not specific enough. They also make the mistake of assuming that if someone is in a particular field or category, that’s all they are. However, people are multifaceted and have many contacts, Bruso points out. Your auto mechanic may service a top estate attorney’s car. “People have multiple spheres of interest,” Bruso explains. “The more you talk, the more common areas you will find, which you may have never even thought about.”
- State the personal aspects you would like. For example, does the person have integrity; is he or she dependable, inventive, kind, and fun to work with?
According to Bruso, “Good people attract good people so why not ask for good people? You don’t want referrals to people who are egomaniacs, control freaks, or verbally rude and abusive ¾ life is too short.
- Ask your contact to give you 3 or 4 referrals, not “a laundry list”. Then get as much information about those 3 or 4 individuals as you can. The more you find out, the more productive your contacts will be when you actually reach them.
Eighty percent of people follow what Bruso calls the Target Return Syndrome. When you return goods to a Target store, you take a number and wait in a long line, which is how many people work when they attempt to grow their business. However, when you follow the Power Referral Program®, you go straight to the front of the line. And when you make your connection, your contact knows that someone close to him or her feels that you are trustworthy, likeable, competent, and have integrity.
Referral expert Joanne Black has a similar approach. She advises clients to make a list of 100 people they know and then organize it by putting those they know best at the top ¾ regardless who they are or what they do. Start at the top, meet with them, and say, “I have a new strategy for my business. I would like to bounce it off you and get your feedback.”
The purpose of the meeting is to get feedback, not referrals. Be very precise as to whom you wish to meet. Don’t ask these people for their business. Instead, ask them whom they know. Work you way down your list. The more you do and the more you ask, the more momentum will build and you may have problems pursuing all the leads you get.