Fred Kaplan, Mazars USA
1. Look Out for Your Outlook
it a mission statement, a purpose, or a personal culture, but look to approach
people you meet from the perspective that networking is awesome when you network
to help rather than to meet people. If you seek only to meet people, you are
unlikely to invest the time and effort it takes in getting to know them to the
degree where you can make a referral. Alternatively, if you are focused on
learning how you might help them, you may actually start a productive
2. Networking is for Qualifying, Not Selling
events are filled with both likely and unlikely referral partners. Qualify new
acquaintances by conducting short screening conversations (e.g., what do you do, how long have you done it, etc.), and then
share your story. Use the “one breath rule” when talking about what you do. That
is, have a clean answer ready to go with one caveat – exhale only once. By the
time you run out of breath, you should have completed your saying. Be clear and
concise and you will be asked to tell them more. That is your cue, and
permission, to go deeper. Do not forget to exchange business cards.
3. Go Postal
up promptly with people you meet via email, phone call, or a handwritten note. Acknowledge
meeting them and mention that you look forward to talking with them again.
Repeat information that you may have mentioned during your first meeting like
details about an upcoming event. A speedy follow-up shows that you care about
having met the person and that you did not discard their business card. It also
helps the other person remember you above others they may have met at the same
4. Your Network is Your Net Worth
your new contacts to join your LinkedIn network. The value of connecting on
LinkedIn is to enable you to add depth to your knowledge about the other
person. Once connected, you can see the other person’s network and find mutual
connections and common interests that will help you decide whether to engage
further. This also allows you to add thousands of indirect contacts to your
invest in further engagement with those who pass your pre-qualification
criteria (e.g., size of their
clients, geographic footprint, relationships, etc.). Invite selected new
contacts to one-on-one meetings. Remember a bell curve exists here and half the
people you meet will be below average.
6. Asset or Acquaintance
one-on-one with potential referral partners. Conduct a relationship conversation.
Be curious. Ask questions and listen to the answers. Why did you get into this
business? Why do you like it? Write down points for post-meeting follow-up,
such as introductions you might make for this person. Explore the value of
building a mutual referral relationship.
7. Givers Gain
best way to get a referral is to give one! Listen for an opportunity to help. During
your one-on-one meetings, be perceived as a giver, not a taker. The more you
listen, the more the other person will like you. Ask yourself, “How can I make
this person better as a result of connecting with me?” Offer to forward
information on a networking or educational event. Introduce this person to
another in your network for further networking. Offering to help starts to
build trust. You want to make a deposit before a withdrawal. Starting
with a low-risk referral deposit minimizes fall-out should your evaluation of
this person be wrong, and you could be wrong, so never immediately refer a new acquaintance
to a client.
8. The Most Important Question
can I know if somebody I'm speaking with is a good connection for you?" Asking
this question shows that you are both interested in this person and committed
to contribute to his or her success. It also shows that you take action, which
will further enhance your image.
9. Ask for the Referral
it is your turn to articulate
your capabilities and distinctive value. Communicate why this person might want
to make a referral to you. Help them get to know and like you. Do not
expect to gain trust early in your relationship. The following are three ways you
can ask for a referral from the least to best method:
A. General – “Do you know anyone at XYZ Company?” While this
request may generate a few names, you have to follow up on their positions and
closeness of the relationships to the referral partner.
B. Guided – “Who are you connected to at XYZ? Who should I
be talking to at XYZ?” This is better since you are helping the other party
identify contacts who might be good for you to meet.
– “Can you introduce me to ____?” When you already know the person for your
desired introduction, either by name or position, you can learn quickly if your
referral partner can help.
Specific – “Would it be worthwhile for me to meet with ___” By enabling
your referral partner to decide yes (or no), your partner becomes obliged to
10. Amateurs Sell, Professionals Sort
you are a match, and sometimes you are not. If the potential referral partner
does not ask you thoughtful questions to learn about you or does not offer to
help you, you have to decide whether or not to invest further in this person.
You may conclude that this person does not have a compatible personality, will
not be a mutual referral partner, and you should end the meeting. The level of
commitment is more important that the number of referral partners. It is better
to have 10 strong partners than 100 average ones. Find partners like you, those
who are motivated to help each other.
11. Organize Your Referral Sources
Categorize each referral
partner relationship for scheduled follow-up using your contact management
system. Consider these four categories:
A - Already referred clients
B - Brought you opportunities
C - Can refer prospects
D – Do not bother (Do not trash these contacts
because you could be surprised with a referral necessitating a change in category).
12. Keep Calm & Stay Visible
In both cultivating referral
partners and pursuing business prospects, try to straddle the line between lurking
and stalking. Periodic touch points are needed to keep each partner an active
referrer. Schedule a cycle of follow-up activities for each person per
category. This could be monthly for your As, bi-monthly for your Bs, and
quarterly for your Cs. Reach out in-person, by phone, or email – just connect! You
can easily stay visible by:
them of events and invitations
them informed by sharing articles or
their LinkedIn and Twitter posts
advice or help
on past projects or events you have in common
Also, do not forget to reward
your referral partners by sending them gift cards, event tickets, gift baskets,
Building a continuous referral
pipeline requires a commitment to the disciplined development and nurturing of strategic