Why I don’t do “referral partners” anymore

It was 2008, I’d just moved to a new town to kickstart a flagging office for my first company and, like any good rainmaker, I was gettin’ out, meetin’ people, shaking babies and kissing hands (or something like that).

Three lunch meetings a week, two breakfasts with my “network” and throw in a couple of after hours events.

And at every event, I’d make it a goal to stay until I found at least two “potentials”…people I thought might make good referral partners.

We’d schedule the obligatory coffee meeting.

And, at over coffee, I’d soon realize that there’s no way I could easily help this person, and our business was so niched and complex that they’d need serious training just to understand where we fit in the world.

Sure, we’d leave happy, promise to stay in touch and to look for referrals for each other…

…but referrals never came.

This went on for three and a half years. I believed that if I…

…just got into the right groups, with the right people, it would get easier…

…just worked a little harder to follow-up, it would get better…

…just did a better job of referring them first, they’d reciprocate…

But it never got better, I just got frustrated.

So, in 2012, I went cold turkey. No more “networking.”

Instead, I did something different: I started cultivating what I now call “Promoters.” First, I trained them in how to promote…by promoting them to the people I knew. Not simply referring them here and there…promoting them far and wide within my circle.

They liked it so much, they wanted to return the favor…to promote me. (And now they knew how.)

And they did…and business has never been the same since.


P.S. For your listening pleasure, I shared referral tips with Hewitt Tomlin on the Contactually Podcast…listen here.




photo courtesy of: Klearchos Kapoutsis

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