Priming the pump: stimulating referrals from high-value contacts

From the desk of Michael J. Hughes, Canada’s Networking Guru. A long time acquaintance contacted me, asking if I could deliver a presentation on change management. It was beyond me that he would request I speak on this topic, given my on-going investment in promoting myself as a networking expert. The annoying part for me was that we’ve been colleagues for over 25 years. We worked in similar capacities at a previous employer. We’ve had conversations about our respective careers. And still, he wasn’t clear.

I did want to be helpful so, before replying, I contacted a colleague, asking if she knew anyone who might have expertise about this subject. She quickly responded that this topic was, in fact, her area of specialty. I had no idea. We were close colleagues and I thought I had a good grasp on her area of expertise. What a revelation!!!

Too often, we take for granted that those closest to us know what we do and why they should hire or refer us. We’re mystified when they don’t. When was the last time you gave those closest to you the opportunity to gain (or re-gain) more insight and information about your value?

Here are three proven, practical strategies that can accomplish this.

Share success stories: prepare “good news” updates to share with colleagues and clients, especially in response to the question “What’s new?” This information relays your success, speaks to a specific market sector and reminds these important contacts of your core value.

Supply free samples: everyone likes a free sample. Make sure you include your highest-value relationships when you think of this strategy. Offer to send them white papers, new product samples or include them in your information updates. It will make them feel special and act as a reminder of the value areas you represent.

Invite them to participate in your offerings. There is no more powerful strategy to get others to act on your behalf than to allow them to experience the value you represent. Invite them to a seminar, allow them to attend an event you’re hosting or supply them with a ticket to that special offering. This is the single most effective strategy I have used to get others to promote and/or hire me.