9 Tactics Turn Referrals Into Rock Solid Relationships

referral tactics

“You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” ~ Zig Ziglar

Referrals are the ultimate compliment in business. They mean people respect you for what you do, stand for and the results you have gotten for them.  It’s a sure sign of trust.

In business, networking and referrals are mostly common sense, following best practices and having good manners really. Recommending people that give great value, experiences and resources is something we should all be doing. It’s part of the “human referral effect“. Spreading good news about great work creates the kind of energy that comes back to you.

Not too long ago people did business with a handshake. Some people can still do this, but I have witnessed some very good handshakes go terribly wrong. Best to qualify aggressively and know who you are referring to and who is referring to you.

Referral marketing is one of the most effective ways of promoting products or services to new customers through word of mouth. These referrals often happen spontaneously and tend to produce very good sales outcomes. Several business sources report that 65% of new business tends to come from referrals.

Referral Tactics: Turn Referrals Into Solid Relationships

1) Tap People You Already Have Results, History and Relationships With

Take those results, that history and your relationships deeper. Don’t be afraid to ask, “Can you suggest some people you know who can benefit from what I do and the results we have gotten?”

2) Thoroughly Qualify People’s Background, Tenure and Results

Determining competencies, qualities, values and intangibles is well worth the effort, especially when entrusting people to others. Search people and companies on the Internet not only for current information and reputation – but any complaints or problems posted online.

3) Be Strategic About Meeting People

Who do you want to meet and who do you want to meet you? I like to call this “sphere-ing.” I look at all the people who have me in common but don’t know each other yet and I try to connect good people to each other that I feel have the right synergy.

4) Take Care Of People As You Want To Be Taken Care Of

Old fashioned nice is so welcomed in business. The consistency of our temperament, attitude, motive and intent gives people a confident sense of what they can expect from us.

5) Offer People a Sampling, Red Spoon Taste of Who You Are and Ask Them to do the Same

Find ways to give people a sampling so they can get a taste of you and your work. Think of the ice cream shop where they give you a little red spoon taste before you buy the flavor of your choice.

6) Blend in Person and Social Media to Open Doors and Engage

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, blogging and eMarketing used in tandem can speed up, enhance and move the relationship and referral process forward faster than ever before. The world wide Web, technology and social media used for business are the greatest communication advancements since the telephone.

7) Build a Referral Culture and Habit Into Your Day to Day Professionalism

The more you consistently connect and refer good people to each other for the right reasons, the more you will become known as a “master connector.” This is a very good thing to be known for.

8) Don’t Wait for Others to Make the First Move, Be Proactive

If you see a great opportunity to make introductions and referrals, don’t wait for them. Take the initiative, which shows people you are interested in them and, in turn, creates interest in you.

9) Always Thank People for Referrals or Introductions

Acknowledge interactions with people, whether they work out or not, with a timely, sincere thank you privately and publicly. It’s an opportunity to show gratitude, humility and authenticity.

If you want to get referrals and turn them into rock solid relationships, become the kind of person that attracts them, inspires them and rewards people for having that kind of confidence in you.

Right attitude, right action, right referrals, right results. Be sincere and go make one today.

Referral Photo via Shutterstock


Deborah Shane Deborah Shane has been recognized as a Top 100 Small Business Champion and Top 50 SMB Influencer (Dunn and Bradstreet 2015). She is a career transition author, personal branding and social media specialist. Deborah's book "Career Transition: Make the Shift" is available through all major book sellers.

15 Reactions
  1. I couldn’t agree with #5 more. Relationships are based on giving, so if you want to build deep relationships start by giving. Whether it’s free advice or a sample of physical product, this establishes a solid foundation for the relationship.

    • I have found that giving to the right people to set the foundation, comes back to benefit you most every time. People pick up the right intentions. Thanks Robert.

      • Deborah:

        This is what BNI is describing as “giver’s gain”. My personal twist is to refer to the trader principle and the voluntarily exchange of two parties, exchanging values. That is how you create “rock solid relationships” according to my view. Otherwise it could become “giver’s pain”…

        I am a certified networker (by ReferensAkademin in Sweden – called the Referral Institute in the U.S.), so this post is music for my ears.

        I will mention this post at our next “Network of Trust” activity at a meeting place in the central city of Gothenburg.

  2. #7 is what we tend to fail to do. great insight!

    • Sofia, practice making it part of your professional behavior and it becomes a beneficial habit.

  3. Always best to show appreciation – a simple thank you, a card, an inbox of acknowledgment and gratitude. I find it to be more evident online – some people don’t say thank you when I do something for them; it puts me right off. Part of me disconnects from them. It then means that I’m less likely to send things their way should the opportunity present itself.

    • Nice to meet you Ebele and thanks for your take. Yes, I agree online can be a very easy and effective place to show gratitude. It’s there for all to see!

      • Good to meet you too, Deborah. *handshakes* Mwah, mwah, dah-ling!

        It’s very easy to say thanks online, to show it in some way. The irony is that I see more people not saying it. I don’t know if it’s a manners thing, whether it’s because it’s the internet or if it’s generally an information-overload thing which can sometimes lends itself to distraction/lack of focus/forgetfulness.

  4. Referrals will always be important especially for business. I guess what most people lack is #8 – proactivity. It is easy if not natural to meet new people if you’re proactive about it. The only problem is that most businesses are so blinded by their products or services that they forget that relationships are equally as important.

    • I kind of know when I meet people if I want to move forward with the relationship and try to follow up in a timely manner. Thanks Aira for your comment.

  5. We have the responsibility to nurture each individual we have developed a relationship for. So treating each referral as a blessing brings us much more, because they know they are acknowledged for the efforts they exert. Thanks for the article, Deborah!

  6. Thanks Martin. Amazing no matter where you live and work in the world the principles are universal!

No, Thank You