After being in business for more than 13 years and growing my business mostly from referrals, I have learned how important referral relationships are. Over the years I have had some interesting things happen to me when it came to giving others referrals. I thought this list might be somewhat entertaining, while being educational.

1. Believe it or not, I have made introductions for referrals and the person benefiting from the referral never says, "thank you". Once could be an oversight, but when it happens multiple times, they just lose me as a referral partner. It screams that they have bad customer service!

2. I once received a "referral gift" of an expired bag of granola. A bag of granola is a strange referral gift in the first place, but it was a year old expired bag. I know for a fact the referral I made turned into a large amount of business for the person (thousands of dollars). The handwritten card was nice telling me how they landed the client. But, it left me wondering what were they thinking to send a bag of granola? Perhaps, this person looked through her kitchen cupboard and grabbed an expired bag of granola. This left a bad taste in my mouth and I never referred to her again.

3. Sometimes emails get overlooked, so when I had sent a referral by email to someone and received no response, I decided that I would also call. I called and left a message stating that I had a great referral for this person. I never received an email or call back.

Any of these real-life examples send a message to referral partners, “I don’t need your referrals and I am too busy to thank you for thinking of me.” Or something like that.

Here are some simple referral etiquette rules:

  • Always thank someone for the referral – call them back, send a handwritten thank you card, email them, or if it is a substantial referral that turned into business, send a thank you gift.

  • Acknowledge the referral - make sure your referral partner knows you received it and you will follow up with the lead in a timely manner.

  • Follow up in 24 hours – when you receive a referral, it is hot when you receive it, not a week from then when the person who was expecting your call forgets about you.

  • Communicate – always communicate to potential referral partners who your ideal client or customer is. If you are being sent the wrong types of referrals, communicate that as well. The referral partner simply may not understand who you are looking for, but they are thinking about you, so help them out by communicating.

Being in a leads group, should mean everyone has good referral etiquette. Even so, at SHE Leads Group, we have a program for members on Mastering Referral Marketing and how to give beyond the lead to fellow members. There are many ways SHE Leads Group members can be supportive to one another. Come, experience the SHE difference. We welcome you to visit a chapter near you, where your business category is not already occupied. 

About the author

Beth Boen, Founder of SHE Leads Group

Beth Boen has more than 30 years of experience in sales, marketing and customer service. She is an award-winning marketer. She is also a professional trainer and customer experience consultant. Beth loves helping people build long-term, loyal relationships that produce quality connections in their business that lead to lifetime customers and endless referrals. Beth helps people do this through her thoughtful blogs and training curriculum. Members of SHE Leads Group have access to more in-depth business development training through presentations at meetings from Beth, her curriculum, and guest trainers. In addition to being the Founder of SHE Leads Group, Beth has had a training and consulting business, The Voice Customer Experience, that she started in 2005.

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