Networking – The Truth About Referrals

After 5 years of active networking I had a pile of referral slips about 5cm high. They represent every referral I’ve given over the years. I don’t suppose for one minute that all of those have turned into business (although they were all given with genuine good intention at the time). And I must admit I haven’t received anything like that number of referrals in return (but I have received plenty of referral business to make it all worthwhile).

The truth is that not all referrals work out well. I’ve given out referrals that I know have not been followed up for whatever reason. And I’ve responded to referrals I’ve received and found that the contact was not really interested in talking to me at all.

And a couple of times, a referral I’ve passed has gone horribly wrong.

Once, years ago, I introduced an IFA to a close relative, for inheritance tax planning. The IFA was supposedly an expert in this area, and of course it was in my best interests for the relationship to work out! I don’t know exactly what happened, but my relative ended up throwing with IFA out of the house, claiming he was pushing a product he’d already rejected. In return, the IFA complained that he’d done lots of work and got nothing in return.

On another occasion, I referred a solicitor to someone on Ecademy who needed conveyancing on a number of properties. A few months later, I had a message from the Ecademist claiming the solicitor had ‘ripped them off’. I spoke to the solicitor, who said the Ecademist was a ‘predator’.

I was relieved that none of these people held me responsible, but it did make me reluctant to refer them again.

On the other hand, I’ve been involved with referrals that have gone spectacularly well.

An Ecademist asked if I knew someone who could raise £1m against unpaid invoices. That’s right, one million pounds! I never thought I’d pass a million-pound referral, but I did know the exact person to help. It was an ex-BRX member who did factoring. He’d been a member for two years and had never got a referral even though he’d done everything right – he’d turned up at every meeting, explained what he did, and given referrals to others. I’d met him a few times and remembered him, so when the occasion arose, I was able to make the introduction.

I know it worked out, because I was paid an introducer’s commission and they both took me to lunch to thank me.

Another time, a client asked me to write a fund-raising proposal for them. It’s not the kind of writing I do, so I posted an appeal on Ecademy for a specialist. A couple of people in my network recommended a particular individual, so I put him in touch with my client.

Again, I know it worked out because the Ecademist subscribed me to the wonderful Hotel Chocolat tasting club (which meant a box of delicious chocolates dropped through my door every month for three months), while the client promised me a Christmas hamper. All it took from me was a couple of emails!

I heard a story when I visited BNI about a copper roofer, who’d been a member for a couple of years and never had a referral. Obviously it’s a very specialised business and not very easy to refer! One of his chapter members was having lunch in central London when he overheard a conversation on the next table about re-roofing the church. He leaned over and asked: “Do you need a copper roofer?” And the roofer got £250,000 of business, just because his colleague was in the right place at the right time, with his ‘ears open’ for opportunities. By the way, I still have the business card for that roofer – it’s made of copper!

One more example: an accountant referred me to a client who needed help with his brochure. I did the work but referred the client to a photographer and search engine experts that he also needed. We did all the work but the accountant got all the credit!

Having networked for so long, I now get referrals, repeat business and second, third or even fourth and fifth-generation referrals. Happily, the vast majority are successful. I hope it’s the same for you.

Medical Referral Marketing is a Process, But a Profitable One

Many of the healthcare specialists that I work with acquire most of their patients from medical referrals. For example, Cardiologists and Orthopedics typically get most of their patients referred by Internists and Primary Care Physicians. Oncologists receive many of their patients from OB/GYN’s and Urologists. Dental specialists, such as Endodontists and Periodontists, gain referrals from General Dentists. Many specialists focus their marketing efforts on their referral sources, not on the patient, because it’s more cost-effective.

Some specialties could benefit from marketing more consistently to medical professionals instead of directly to the patient. Too many Audiologists spend excessively on hearing aid advertising when they could influence physicians to refer hearing impaired patients to their practice for hearing evaluations that could lead to hearing aid sales.

How do you build your referral sources to increase referrals? It’s not as simple as taking one of your fellow doctors out to lunch and then expecting them to refer their patients to you. This PROCESS includes a few critical steps in order to be successful.

Step #1 is creating and managing a database of all of your current referral sources, as well as potential referral sources. You’ll need to determine who to target and prioritize the best prospects on this list. You’ll also need to track the results of all your efforts.

Step #2 – Keep your name and your brand in the minds of both your current and potential referral sources by marketing to them on a regular basis. This includes direct mail, newsletters, email (if that’s a particular source’s preferred method of communication), and most importantly, an outreach program that utilizes a practice representative or “practice liaison”, who will personally meet with the doctors and staff of these practices on your behalf, in order to establish credibility and build trust.

The practice rep is a critical part of this process. Occasionally, the practice owner may serve this function. However, for most established practices, this isn’t the best use of your time. An existing staff member could serve as your rep on a part-time basis.

The 3rd critical step is a commitment to doing this consistently. Initially, it may take time to get results. Also, a common mistake many practices make when they market to referral sources is they do it for a while, get good results, and then they stop and eventually their referrals decline.

Healthcare professionals refer their patients to other professionals they know and they trust. Their reputation is on the line. To gain their trust, it may take time to reinforce why it’s in their patients’ best interests to come to you. Stick with the process CONSISTENTLY to maximize your results.

If you need help increasing medical referrals to your practice, contact me for assistance. If you’re an Audiologist and would like more detailed information on medical referral marketing within the hearing healthcare industry, read my recent article in Audiology Online called “The Medical Referral Marketing Process – The alternative to Advertising”.

Proven Strategies for a Strong, Profitable Practice!

Commercial Agents – Referral Opportunity for New Business and Listings

It is no secret that the commercial property market is a challenge at the moment for real estate agents as property owners struggle with high vacancy levels and unsold listings. This then says that we need to be proactive and productive when it comes to building relationships and opportunities for our clients. The referral process should be a formal part of your marketing strategy and used in your real estate business.

So many referrals can come from people that you know or have had something to do with as a specialist commercial agent. They people to provide you with leads would normally be:

  • Previous property owners that you have acted for in the sale of a property
  • Property Investors and portfolio owners that own other property in and about the local area
  • Previous landlord clients that you have supported in property leasing and or property management
  • The maintenance contractors that look after your managed properties for the landlord clients within your agency
  • Tenants that you have successfully placed into other commercial or retail properties locally
  • Tenants in your managed properties will always know a lot about the local business activity and other businesses nearby
  • Engineers, architects, solicitors, and accountants, that have something to do with property activity in the local area
  • Local councilors or members of the municipal level of government
  • Previous people that have enquired about other listings that were on your books for sale or for lease

This list can be expanded given your local property precinct. Who do you know that can be a source of leads?

Property developers that you know and have served with regard to other transactions locally will be prepared to share information with you providing you have established a good foundation of trust with them.

When you have listed a property locally for sale or lease, the other businesses nearby will be a significant source of local market intelligence and potential referral. The listing on your books gives you an advantage to network and a reason to talk to all adjacent property owners and occupiers. Ask them about the local property market any changes that they are aware of.

Property planning consultants that have been involved with property changes or challenges in some of your listings are another source of opportunity. These people understand the changes that are active in the local area and they can give you significant leads.

The local planning committee or planning authority is constantly dealing with property changes and property zoning issues. Keep close to the activities of the planning committee to check on any pending approvals or current issues under discussion. Normally there are publicly available minutes from the Planning Committee of current matters of consideration.

So this is a significant group of people to network and seek referrals from. They will all know other people that have links to property activity. The referral opportunity that exists within this list is significant. To tap into this opportunity is just a matter of asking the right questions wherever and whenever possible.

Business conversions from a referral are much higher in success than that which you get in a cold call contact. Referral opportunity is based on relationships and those relationships can help you open doors with new people. To convert more referral business, you simply need the mindset and the ability to ask the right questions in every meeting.

Vertigo and Balance Problems – Screening For Appropriate Referral

With complaints of dizziness, vertigo or disequilibrium, symptoms can be the result of vestibular, neurologic, vascular, psychologic and even orthopedic pathology. As such, it is not always clear which specialty is appropriate for referral. In this age of cost awareness and effectiveness, the primary care physician must make important decisions as to the appropriateness and cost-effectiveness of diagnostic procedures and referrals to specialists.

Patient’s complaining of dizziness or disequilibrium without obvious objective signs, for lack of a more specific diagnostic direction, are often referred for MRI/CAT scan imaging studies to rule out the possibility of brain lesions. The cost effectiveness of this decision deserves scrutiny, as the yield of these studies is very low whereas the diagnostic yield of appropriate physical examination in the doctor’s office is very high. “Balance disorders are common, while brain tumors are rare”. Prior to the commencement of tests such as MRI, points that need consideration are the likelihood that MRI will provide any relevant diagnostic information and whether the sensitivity of less expensive more diagnostically useful tests can be performed first. In our office, the goal of the initial office examination is to determine the probable cause of the patient’s symptoms.

A directed history and extensive neurologic physical examination allows for more exacting diagnosis and thus successful treatment. Unfortunately, in this day of managed care, many providers must succumb to time constraints prohibiting extensive examinations, necessitating referrals to specialists. Currently, 50% of patients seen in the primary care setting receive no diagnosis for their complaints of dizziness, yet 70% receive a prescription for meclizine, (Antivert). Meclizine has not been demonstrated to be effective or appropriate in the treatment of chronic disequilibrium, dizziness or imbalance. It is occasionally effective in reducing nausea associated with vertigo/spinning in some forms of chronic vertiginous disease, however, it is not curative in any way, and in fact interferes with the natural recovery process often worsening matters further. It is appropriate to state at this time, that you do not need a specialist referral to consult with me in my office.

Social Media Marketing Means Free Referrals

Looking for new clients for virtually every enterprise, small or big, is the lifeblood of its prosperity and robustness. Without new prospects and making new sales there is no way an enterprise can withstand.

As important as this is and has been, the retention of old clients and seeking those buyers for referrals is becoming way more vital.

Merchants are waking up to exactly how important this is, and are spending more in attempting to keep present consumers at a higher quantity of customer contribution and service. General Motors has put this towards the top of their precedence list, and is hoping for sixty-eight percent.

Independent business marketing specialist and organizer of the Duct Tape Marketing System, John Jantsch, talks about the Seven Actions To Developing a Marketing Procedure. This technique and these procedures are elementary to getting competent customers and then flipping them into referrals. Jantsch defines advertising and marketing as, “Persuading someone who possesses a need to understand, like, and put your trust in you”.

Establishing individual references from those who possess a need to love, understand, and have confidence in you should be reasonably effortless and potent, so long as you have a technique and you are routinely building that confidence.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century, where looking into clientele and referrals can at this time result from social media tools and communities, at the same time. That is correct, Facebook, Blogs, LinkedIn, Podcasts, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube pretty much all can be extremely fertile recommendation sources. Our social media sites give people greater opportunity to “understand, love, and depend on” us through whatever we produce and say, and what other folks publish and mention about us.

Are you running all possible worlds to build up recommendations?

The main effect on beauty buyers in every single sector all over the world is assistance from family and friends. With social websites, they’re not only capable of getting well timed brand details right from brands, but also all the validation from authorities and good friends.

Listed below are five actions you can take to build up word-of-mouth from your online community and clientele.

1. Construct Associations Instead of Financial Dealings.

If buyers have business dealings with folks that they like, recognize, and trust, then establishing associations in place of having transactions is the means to do that, and obtain recommendations.

2. Use Consumer Reviews

Use the strength of pleased customers and dependable devotees. Keep updating your customer feedback on LinkedIn and put them up on your websites.

3. Be Sure to Ask People

Identify crucial people who you possibly can ask for referrals, a written recommendation, or an online endorsement.

4. Regularly Develop Your Circle

Combine your web and face-to-face social networking technique and get individualized with folks. Connect with folks person and employ the web 2.0 models as a bridge. They are going to remember the way you cause them to truly feel.

5. Acquire the Referral Behavior

Make building and getting individual references a fundamental portion of your own everyday routines.

The conversion efficiency of referrals from pleased clientele is close to 50%. Make use of existing human relationships to change clientele into your sales force.

Always make it a point to ask the correct consumers the following queries:

“Who are you aware of that might reap benefits, like you have, from this community, solution, or service”?

“Might you propose or make an intro to them for me?”

Take more time exploring trusted referrals and observe what happens.