5 Ways to Appreciate your Referral Partners

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
~ John F. Kennedy

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Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

Thanksgiving is drawing near here in the United States and with it come thoughts of gratitude for that which we have received in the previous year. Of course, as skilled networkers, we should be going beyond just thinking about it. We should be acting upon it — all the time. After all, referrals rewarded are referrals repeated.

So other than simply saying “thanks!”, how can we show true appreciation for those who have gone out of their way to assist us? Just follow the five R’s.

  1. React. The first step comes as soon as that referral shows up in your voicemail queue or email inbox. As soon as someone gives you a referral, you must act upon it. I’ve seen more than one person miss out on a great opportunity because they simply didn’t get moving. Referrals have a “sell by” date. If you don’t respond, someone else will.
    To give you a better picture, imagine a good friend bakes you the most wonderful cake in the world. Four weeks later, he comes by to visit to see that cake, still sitting on your counter, all stale and moldy. What is the likelihood that he’s going to bake you another one.
  2. Reflect. As in reflect well… on them. Of course, you always do your best work, but in cases of referrals you must kick it up a notch. Your referral partner has put their reputation on the line for you. If you provide anything less than the royal treatment, you not only hurt your good name, you hurt theirs, too.
  3. Report. Let them know what happened. If this wasn’t a good fit for you, they need to know that – politely. “Tom, thanks so much for the referral. I checked into it and, while I do appreciate the effort, I’m not really working with the prison system anymore. I’m trying to focus more on boutique financial adviser firms. I hope you’ll still keep an eye out for me.”
    Of course, it might be a good fit, too. Assuming it is, they need to know if it worked out. If it did, they’ll want to share in the celebration. If it didn’t, they might even go to bat for you to either reverse the decision or to find out what happened.
  4. Reciprocate. Of course, we are always looking for opportunities for everyone in our network, because it’s just the right thing to do for all involved. Whenever possible, though, we should be putting our referral partners to the head of the line – even making an active effort to find solutions to their problems. Can you connect them with a client? Do you have a strategic introduction you could make? Have you hit upon an amazing resource that has really kicked your business into top gear? Make an effort on their part and you are far more likely to see them making an effort on yours.
  5. Reward. Depending on the level of the opportunity, this could range from a simple “thank you” in an email to an all-expenses paid weekend trip to the destination of your choosing – and, yes, I have been a recipient of both ends of the spectrum and just about everything in between. The reward should be more than just some monetary recompense for the value you’ve received. It should be about you recognizing the effort they’ve put forth.
    Do take care with this one. Some people swear by the reward system, even to the point of promising it up front. Others are put off by it and refuse to engage because they feel like it taints the process and calls into question the “purity” of the referral. Personally, depending on the level of the opportunity, I will give a gift to my referral partners. Sometimes, it’s just a nice handwritten thank you note, others it’s coffee or lunch on me. Other times I might send them a copy of one of my audio programs or even hand-deliver a jar of home-made jelly.

Showing gratitude for a referral should go far beyond the simple act of saying thank you. We reveal our appreciation in our behavior in every stage of the referral process. Remember the five R’s and make sure you have the best chance for repeat referrals.

How do you show appreciation to your referral partners?

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Greg Peters, president and founder of The Reluctant Networker, LLC, is a business networking specialist. He works with trade associations on both the local and national level to create a culture of better connections and greater opportunity. Find out more at www.TheReluctantNetworker.com or gpeters@thereluctantnetworker.com.

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