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Thursday, February 25, 2010

CONNECTING IS NOT ENOUGH: Ten Tips to get your referral message across (Part Two)

Connecting Is Not Enough with Andy Lopata

In last month’s first five tips we looked at the importance of knowing exactly the help you need when asking your network for referrals, and how to make specific requests that people respond to.

The type of information you share, the language you use and your consistency are also key, as we now go on to explore.

Tip Number Six - Keep it simple

People so often succumb to the temptation to load their champions with information to help them refer us. We want them to recognise every possible opportunity and answer every objection we can see coming.

Remember two things. First of all, they are simply our gatekeepers, making the introduction. They are not there to sell for us. Secondly, the more you give people to remember, the more they have to forget

Try using ‘The Twitter Measure’. Put your message into 140 characters. Edit, edit and edit some more. Does it still make sense? Could someone understand who you want to talk to and why?

Be brutal with your information. What do people NEED to know? Ensure you give them just enough to initiate the connection and then pass the rest to you.

Also consider their own background. Champions from your own industry or related areas may well need or be able to deal with more information than a friend who has the right connections but who doesn’t necessarily understand what’s involved.

Tip Number Seven - People love a story

Once you have worked out what your message is and the key information people need to understand, make it easier for them to do so by wrapping it up in a story. Case studies bring ideas to life and also add credibility to your request, proving you've solved similar problems successfully in the past and it’s not just an idea or concept.

Case studies also help people understand how to recognise a prospect and how you work with them to overcome their challenges and put the theory into context. Not only that but they are memorable and more easily recalled and repeated.

Tip Number Eight - Avoid Jargon

This is the trap that we can all easily fall into. It’s all so easy to lapse into words, phrases and references that we understand as part of our everyday language but which make no sense to people from outside our industry.

Do you know what terms you use that are jargon for someone else? Take the ‘Ten Year Old Test’. Tell a ten year old child what you do and then ask them to explain it back to you. Finding out how much they have been able to understand and relate back will give you a good indication of how well you are getting your message across.

The difference between a child and an adult is that the child will ask you if they don’t understand something. Adults are frightened of looking foolish and are more likely to nod politely and then take no action because they’ve missed the point than ask you to explain terms they’ve not understood.

Tailor your message to the person's experience. If it’s someone from your industry you can be far more complex in your explanations than someone who doesn’t have the relevant experience.

Tip Number Nine – Help people learn over time

As we’ve already discussed in a couple of these tips, you don't have to get everything across in one go. If you have someone who wants to refer you and has ample opportunity to do so, you’ll have plenty of time to educate them and help them to see a host of possibilities.

The fear of missing out on opportunities can lead to us trying to get across all of our products, services and prospects at the same time. However, focus on one request at a time and let people build up their understanding of how to help you gradually. Each individual request you make and referral they pass will build their knowledge.

Tip Number Ten - Manage how you are perceived

Help people to refer you by managing your reputation effectively. We often talk about ‘it’s not what you know but who you know.’ But I would argue that it’s far more important to be aware of who knows you and what they say about you.

What do you want people to say about you? We started off by looking at knowing who you would most like to be introduced to. It’s also vital that you understand what your general message and image should be. Focus on who you want people to be talking to about you, what you want them to be saying and how you can build the right public image.

Consistency is the key to ensuring that the right message is repeated. Whether that’s ensuring that your message and conversations are consistent with each other or your appearance and actions are consistent with the image and reputation you crave, you need to make sure everything fits.

Look at how you are getting your message out there at present and consider changes you could make using the ideas outlined above. If you’re not getting sufficient referrals at the moment, find two or three things you can change immediately and put them into place.

Approach people and ask for referrals. Be specific in your requests and keep the information simple and easy to understand. Put these ideas into practice and watch your flow of referrals increase with ease.


Are you struggling to put an effective networking or referral strategy into place? Do you want to know more about how to ensure you get the maximum possible return from your networking?
Andy's new Audio programme 'Networking in Ninety Minutes' will give you the tools you need to make the most from your networking. Available in CD or mp3 format here.
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Join Connecting is not Enough - Andy Lopata's Facebook Page

For more information, please visit Andy's TNNW Bio.


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Bill Doerr said...


Great insights. Thank you.

I especially appreciate your comment in #10 about 'managing the experience' people have of you.

That's so important and so often ignored.

In social psychology there's a concept known as 'Impression Management'. That's where "What you DO speaks so loudly I can't hear what you SAY".

Once again, you've shared some real gems.

Thank you!

Rick Itzkowich said...


As always, you give some very concrete practical pieces of advise that are easy to implement. Thank you.

Andy Lopata said...

Thanks for your comments Bill and Rick, I'm pleased that the article is helpful.

I like the idea of impression management. The concept of 'what people say about you' is so important yet overlooked, particularly by people using social networks.

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