Becoming Referable

It’s true that success in business and in life comes down in many ways to who you know.  This applies in several ways.  First, it may mean a mentorship perspective, where knowing a successful mentor can help you avoid the proverbial landmines of personal experience while figuring out the process to success alone.  It matters who you associate with.  Robert Kiyosaki teaches that our income is the average of the five people with whom we associate most often.  And, it matters when building a business community, because a new friend can connect you to their friends.

You want to make sure that people want to make that critical introduction of YOU to the people they know.  How can you help inspire them to do so?  By becoming REFERABLE.  Here are 7 key points to get you started!

1.  Always be looking for opportunities to expand your network.   If you aren’t meeting people, you won’t know anyone who WOULD refer you!  To become referable, keep making new friends.  We attract what we focus on.  If you have a goal of connecting with people, you will notice those golden opportunities when they present themselves.  Be on the lookout for clubs and associations that create opportunities to make connections, such as the local Rotary Club, Toastmasters, or various Meetup groups in your area.

2. Have character and integrity.  The minute you show yourself to be untrustworthy, no one of character will refer you.  They will point you out to their friends, but only as a warning.  “Don’t go near that guy,” they will say ominously.  “He cheated me out of a business deal.”  Some guys so crooked you could screw them in the ground.  A small business owner operates from a base of profit motive and a commitment to provide a valuable service or product. A business owner communicates truth using direct and indirect means. You reveal your commitment to honesty when you pay your company bills and employees. When you file taxes, report to your investors and make commitments to your customers, you communicate virtue. Looked at from another angle, failing to meet your corporate responsibilities establishes a climate of mistrust and potential illegality.  Don’t cook the books, cheat on your taxes, gossip about people, break your word, neglect a commitment, or speak negatively about others when they aren’t present to defend themselves.  Never let it be said of you, “Watch out for that person.”  Make sure that you carry yourself with such a high degree of integrity that people would do a business deal on a handshake with you.

3. Be interested in the other person and their job and company.  We naturally tend to like people who like us.  Maybe we think they’ve got good taste!  Joking aside, if you have a meeting with someone, show your interest in them by following up in a punctual timeframe.  After you’ve made a new business contact, make sure within a week or two that you’ve called them to touch base.  If the contact is a former client or just someone you’ve talked to before, now might be the perfect time to ask for a referral. If it’s a prospect you’re calling, maybe you can set up an appointment to have coffee and find out if their plans might include using your services.  Take an interest in people and what’s going on in their lives.  For example, if a client mentioned they were working on an important project, give them a personal call to check in and see how the project is going.  If you are working with them, always ask if there is anything more you can do to serve them and their business.  If you are fortunate enough to have had business referred to you, call the person who referred the business and thank them!  Take the time to try to learn more about their current activities so you can refer business to them.  When you take an interest in helping others, kind deeds tend to circle back to us.

4.  Track who you meet.  When you meet someone for the first time, take a second to jot down any important information that they brought up in the conversation.  When I meet people, after the conversation is finished and I walk away, if I have their business card I like to pause for a second and jot notes on the back of it about our conversation.  If I caught family information, career info, personal hobbies, or even a reminder of how and where we met, it will help me to show a sincere interest in them when I phone back.  If they don’t use business cards, take a minute and jot some notes in your cellphone about them.  It’s not only valuable to do this for the follow up, but for the long-term relationship.  If they mentioned their birthday or anniversary date, make a note of that!  How amazing would it be to send them a note of congratulation on their birthday or anniversary.  It’s so rare that you will stand out from the crowd.  A good habit is to list  people to stay in touch with. Include anyone who has given you business in the last 12 monthsas well as any other prospects you’ve connected with recently. Send them cards on the next holiday.

5.  Look sharp!  If you want people to refer you to others, be presentable.  Dress in a way that would make them feel proud to introduce you to the most important people in their lives, to the people in their inner circle.  Don’t dress like your peers; dress like the people who have accomplished what you want to accomplish.  It’s amazing how simple grooming and basic hygiene can be missed, but if you want people to refer you, you had better shower, shave, brush your team, polish your shoes, and remove the dog hair!  Look sharp to become sharp.

6.  Practice excellent people skills.  Simply be courteous toward everyone whose path you cross.  Four basic principles of people skills and integrity are:  a, Show up on time.  b. Do what you say.  c. Finish what you start.  d. Say please and thank you.  While these may seem basic, I am always shocked when I meet grown men and women who literally fail at these four things on a regular basis.  You don’t have to sound like a fake news caster and sound “polished” to have people skills; you just to see the inherent value and worth in all people and treat them accordingly.

7. Have a positive attitude! Nobody wants to even be around someone who has a bad attitude, much less network with them. If you want to be referable, be pleasant and friendly.  If you light up the room when you walk out, I am talking to you right now!  Start learning to smile more often.  See the good in each person and each situation.  When problems arise, try to seek the solution to the problem rather than moaning and complaining that something isn’t going right.  Choose to laugh and shrug off the minor inconveniences of the day.  The people who might want to refer you are fighting their own battle with the day.  Aspire to be the “friction free” team mate who shows respect for everyone on the court.  If you lift people’s spirits when you are around them, you are on the fast-track to becoming referable!

Apply these seven principles every day, and the people in your business and your life will refer you.  Keep learning, growing and getting referred!

God Bless, Tim Marks


11 thoughts on “Becoming Referable”

  1. Years ago in an office that I worked in we had a sign in the lobby that read,” Of all precious things, the most precious is people.” Your post has provided some very practical reminders of ways to live out that sentiment everyday. Thanks!

  2. Thanks for such great basic points – sometimes we just need to be reminded of the small details that make such a difference!

  3. This is a great blog! Common sense approaches that may sound easy but requires a skill set that not everyone carries naturally. If I had to add a #8 (or maybe it just goes along with #3?) to this already great list, it would be to send out hand written notes. I try to make it a habit to send a nice note of thanks to my vendors, prospects, clients, and especially networking connections. It could be a ‘thanks for the meeting’ , ‘thanks for the service’ or ‘thanks for the business’….just always be thankful and sincere!

    1. Ed Thanks for quoting me aurccately. Instead of focusing on what is happening in Washington or in being preoccupied by the drone of negative news, invest your worry time in constructive action. What are you doing to upgrade your strategic skills? How can you position your services for those who need what you have to offer? Position, Perform and Perist. Those who thrive in the tough times are into action. Remember that the research on optimism finds that we earn that attitude through a track record of overcoming obstacles. The more obstacles you’ve overcome, the more likely you will do it again. True optimists are realists. They want to know what they are facing so they can get busy coping with how to get through it. Hope your readers enjoy the insights you will be sharing from what I hope will be the first of many leadership events.

  4. Such basic principles that most of us were taught as children or at least the principles to build on. Yet so many of us have strayed from values and integrity because its not the norm. When did it become odd to have a spine and do what’s right, instead it is the norm to degrade and treat people with disrespect in today’s society. I thank you Tim Marks for having the courage and the self belief to bring to light that we need a change, your actions inspire other men like myself to step my game up and be the man and the father that my family deserves !

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