Reason 1 | Reason 2 | Reason 3 | Reason 4 | Reason 5

Problem: People Make Low-Quality Referrals.

Making an introduction to someone who really isn't looking for your service is a low-quality referral. Low-quality means that the person is unlikely to use the business to which you are referring them.

First, the person may be completely uninterested in meeting with you. When a vendor calls me and offers me lunch, I always so "no." I don't have time to spend 60 minutes eating with someone with whom I have no business or personal relationship. An hour of my time is much more valuable than the $10 cost of a meal.

Second, if the person does meet with you, it may be a waste of both your time. I don't like 30-minute meetings with bankers, in which they show me an analysis of the $200 per month I can save banking with them. I don't like 10-minute pitches from phone companies offering to save me money of local and long-distance plans. Business presentations just don't interest me, and I don't remember ever signing up for a new service based on a pitch from a stranger.

Third, most people simply don't have the commitment to follow up. I recently visited a networking group meeting with 200 people present. Since I am an attorney, some of the event organizers asked me if I knew commercial bankers that would like to join their networking group. I said that I knew two commercial bankers that would probably be very interested. I gave my business card to the organizers, but none of them ever called for the referrals. These would have been high quality referrals, but I guess these event organizers were too jaded by all their low-quality referrals to follow up. Low-commitment produces low-quality referrals.

Solution: Learn How to Refer Effectively.

The first key to successful networking is learning how to recognize and deliver high-quality referrals.

First, refer yourself. If you want what someone that you know offers, buy it from the person you know! So many people fail to think of their friends when they buy a product or service. I buy from people who buy from me. Your friends will do the same for you. If you use their services, you will also be in a better position to recommend them to others. When you need something, you are always a high-quality referral.

Second, recognize when your friends have a need. For example, if someone you know says that they are thinking about refinancing their home, think of a lender that you know. Make a referral for someone with an immediate need for their service. If someone mentions to you that they are starting up a new company, think of me. I am a lawyer that helps people start new companies. I know all kinds of providers for small businesses. When I receive a call from someone who needs my specific service, that is a high-quality referral.

Third, make a strong endorsement. If you intend to recommend someone, make sure you understand what they do. If you are committed to endorsing your friends and you commit others to using them, then you will be increasing business for your friend. That makes you the kind of friend that I want to have in my network!

Read the rest of this series: Reason 1 | Reason 2 | Reason 3 | Reason 4 | Reason 5