When I first started out in business I remember the extraordinary generosity of a friend called Charlie. I had clarity about what I wanted to do in business I just needed to find my first group of clients. Over lunch I was telling Charlie about my new venture and he immediately wanted to help. He made two offers.

The first offer was the invitation for me to visit his office and look through his address book. He offered to write a letter of introduction to whoever I selected – ambitiously I selected over 50 people.

Charlie also promised to make referrals for me to 5 people who he knew would benefit from my services. He explained he would speak to them and then email introduce us. This is when I learnt the difference between an ‘introduction’ and a ‘referral’:

• An ‘introduction’ is an opportunity to meet someone you might find interesting or you might be able to do business with one day. Introductions can be described as ‘unqualified leads’.
• A ‘referral’ is the opportunity to meet someone who has an identified need for your product or service at that time. Referrals are described as ’pre-qualified prospects’.

Of the 50 people that I was introduced to none turned into a business opportunity although I met some very interesting people and I’m still in contact with some of them. However out of the 5 referrals I ended up doing some sort of work with 4 of them.

Referrals are one of the most effective approaches to new business development. This Relationology Tip series is going to explore how you can grow your business through referral relationships.

Question: How could you become more intentional about building your business through referrals?

Guest blogger: Matt Bird, Creator of Relationology, www.relationology.co.uk,

This is the first in a four part Relationology tip series on ‘Referral Relationships’.