There’s no better way to secure free business than to gain a referral. And the finest examples of fruitful referrals I can think of, aside from the standard client references, are the ones where it takes some detective work to figure out just where the referral came from, or one which could only have happened by being in the exact right place at the exact right time.
About two years ago I received a voicemail from a prospective client from Arizona who mentioned a name in her message – presumably the name of the person who kindly referred her to me. The story would end here if I even half recognized the name of person she though referred her. Please trust that the irony is not lost on me that this new client happened to be calling from an Alzheimer Institute! Nevertheless, I looked up both the prospective client and the supposed referred on both LinkedIn and my trusted Facebook, and lo and behold I would begin to unravel the mystery. Though I recognized neither, it did appear I had a mutual friend with the referrer. However this mutual friend was a rather distance acquaintance. He was a former associate of mine during my high school days, the president of a rival high school’s debate team who I’d met during my stint on the Junior Statesmen of America. But the story cannot end here. He was also the best friend of one of my client’s husband’s. The moral of this story is that I was able to close a piece of business delivered to me by the assistant of the cousin of the best friend of my client’s husband. That’s at least four degrees of separation and it ended in positive revenue for Hotel Lobbyists – and who knows, maybe even another referral.
My next favorite example is much simpler but it speaks to the power of being in the right place at the right time as well as associating with people who are good connectors of other people. I got an email the other day from another prospective customer whom I’d never met. She needed help securing rooms for her wedding block in San Francisco. How did I come upon this referral? This woman was seated next to my cousin on a flight from San Francisco to San Diego. Apparently they got to talking about their respective lives and when the woman mentioned her upcoming wedding, my cousin had the wherewithal to dig deeper, see if she’s secured her room block and if she hadn’t, here was Hotel Lobbyists’ contact information. I’m dazzled.
Referrals like these replace what would otherwise be an outside sales force and because neither of my “sales people” were selling, the sales process was that much easier. I’ll take referrals like this any day!