I blew it and I knew it. I botched an introduction. I should have known better.
You might as well learn from my mistakes—right?
Here are three blunders I have personally made—the first one very recently—and the lessons I’ve learned. Yes! Even “the referral coach” gets it wrong from time to time.
Blunder #1: When you don’t discuss what the introducer will say
This was my blunder from a couple of weeks ago.
During a phone call, I asked a colleague to introduce me to someone. I suggested that he not just send an email to the contact, but to create an “email introduction.” Later, in an email, I suggested we discuss what he might say to the contact to present me in the best light and pique his interest—but we never did that.
Before the conversation went any further, I received an email from my colleague that he had sent a message to the contact and would let me know when he received a reply.
A day or two later, my colleague forwarded a response from the contact that, in so many words, he wasn’t interested. In this exchange, I learned that my colleague had not provided the type of introduction that would have been best in this situation; the right message, with the right angle, with the right next step.
- Lesson #1 learned: Tell your referral source, “Here’s what I’ve found works the best” and get their agreement to make the introduction in the manner that truly works the best for you (and will still be comfortable for the other parties). Never assume someone knows how to describe your value in the right way for any particular circumstance.
Blunder #2: When you don’t learn a thing about the prospect
I was on the phone with a very happy client. Before I could get the words out of my mouth to discuss a possible introduction, he was already telling me about someone I should contact.
I could tell he was in a bit of a hurry and was about to end the phone call. I was caught: Should I keep the call going and learn more about the prospect and suggest a true introduction? Or do I respect these signals he was sending me and settle for a name and phone number?
You could say I “wimped out” or that I “respected his time.” But either way, I hung up with insufficient information to increase the chances of a good connection with this new prospect.
I went to the prospect’s LinkedIn profile and his firm’s website and learned a few things. I called the prospect twice, leaving short—but what I hoped were effective—messages. I never heard anything back.
- Lesson #2 learned: If you don’t have the time to learn some good information about the prospect that will allow you to leave more relevant and compelling messages, don’t just rush off and call (or email) the prospect. Don’t settle. Find a way—via phone or email—to query your referral source for more information. The most effective questions I like to ask are: (1) What’s going on in her business right now that’s most important to her; and (2) What do you think you will say to her (assuming an introduction) that will pique her interest in hearing from me?
Blunder #3: When you don’t keep the introducer in the loop
This one happened many years ago and I have not made this mistake again.
A client provided me with three decent introductions, one of which resulted in a new client, for whom I was going to give a speech about six months out from the time of the introduction.
Knowing I wanted to thank the referral source, I learned that he was a cyclist and rode every week. I purchased a very nice cycling jersey (an $80 spend) that I planned to present to him in front of the group—thus demonstrating that we should always “thank the referral source.”
About five or six weeks before the event, I received an email from the referral source acknowledging that he would see me in a few weeks. But it was written with the tone that he was surprised to learn that I “got the engagement” when he saw the promotion for the event. And when I saw him before the speech, he was slightly distant in his demeanor, which was uncharacteristic of his normal way.
What saved me in this situation was the presentation of my thank-you gift to him. He appreciated the fact that I learned about his passion for cycling and tailored my thank-you to him. The audience applauded, and his demeanor was back to normal. Whew!
- Lesson #3 learned: Always keep your referral source in the loop. You don’t have to overdo it, but sending an occasional email update is highly appreciated by the referral source and makes them feel you do value them and their help.
How you get introduced, what you learn, and how you follow through with referrals and introductions truly does make a difference to the results you will produce and your ability to remain referable (or should I say “introducable”) in the eyes of your clients and centers of influence.