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Question:  So how do you get more referrals from everyone you meet?

Answer:  Have more credible people advocating on your behalf.

I was training a group recently and we were talking about the topic of credibility.  I gave the class this definition.

1. The quality or power of inspiring belief.

I told them that the way to make yourself credible with your network is to simply honor 100% of your commitments.  Then I casually asked the class to raise their hands if they do this.  Keep in mind that 100% means never missing a meeting, never showing up late, never breaking a personal commitment, (ice cream anyone), or never turning a proposal in late.  Basically, ALWAYS doing what you say you will do.

Interestingly, someone raised their hand; then my mouth spoke before my brain thought.  I blurted out, “you were 10 minutes late.”  I actually felt bad that I called them out, but the fact is they lost credibility by coming in late.  After the workshop, the lady came up to me.  I figured she was going to give me a piece of her mind and rightfully so.  Instead, she thanked me for pointing out that she was late.  She had never considered that everything matters when building credibility.

You are either gaining or losing credibility with everything you do.

Let’s assume you have a credible network.  How do you get your network advocating for you?  I have identified three basic types of referral avocation.  They are Promoter and Advocator and Creator.  The assumption for any level of advocating is that you have established a visible identity with people in your network.  They at least know your name.  If people do not know who you are, they cannot refer you no matter how badly you might want them to.  So let’s briefly describe three types of referral avocation, but, before we do, let’s talk about invisible and visible identity.

Invisible Identity:  This is someone in your network whom you barely know.  Maybe they are a social network connection or a community acquaintance.  They may or may not know you,  but they might be willing to connect you with someone if you reach out and ask. Remember, that this is an uphill battle because there are only the seeds of a relationship in place.

Visible Identity:  This is someone who is willing to refer you if it literally falls in their lap.   An example would be: you have a friend who needs a deck redone and you know a contractor who can do it.  Your friend calls you and asks if you know someone who repairs decks.  After much thought and deliberation, you recall that you do and make the connection at a very low level.  The point is that before people will advocate for you, you at least have to have a visible identity.

Below are the three levels of Referral Avocation:

Promoter:  This is someone who is willing to put forth a little effort.  They may include you in their newsletter or, if an opportunity for you comes across their desk, they will make the connection.
Advocator:  This is really where people start singing your praises and will actively look for opportunities for you.
Creator:  This is the ultimate referral generator.  This person will literally go out and create business for you.  They are your number one salesperson.  You have taken the time to teach them how to refer you and you have created a referral incentive program to keep them motivated.

This person will look high and low for opportunities for you.

Your homework, if you so desire, is to look at all the people you are connected to and determine what level of avocation they currently are. Start categorizing your network and work on strategies to move your connections to the next level.

Coffee Anyone?