A dragon’s den style event for charity – what a mad idea! Five small community charities were invited to a private client bank where they were each given the opportunity to present to a room full of wealthy and generous guests. At the end of the evening the guests were given the opportunity to pledge donations to the presenting charities. This initiative has raised over £1million for community charities.

It was a matter of weeks after the first event that I became inundated with requests from ‘old friends’ and ‘new friends’ who ran small community charities who wanted to catch up over coffee. I quickly had to develop ways of filtering out all these enquiries to ensure that something that was meant to be a small part of my life didn’t take over my day job.

This is just how clients with budget can feel. They become inundated with ‘friends’ who just want to catch up. So they have to create filters – such as gatekeepers whose job is to say “no” as nicely as possible – to manage those requests. If they said “yes” to every such enquiry they would have no time left to do any work.

So as a new player how on earth do you get past the gatekeeper? It’s simple – clients meet with the people they know and trust or the people referred to them by people they know and trust. At the heart of a referral is a transfer of trust that takes place from the referrer to the referred. Referrers are therefore wise to qualify their referral.

The first way to qualify a referral is implicitly in the method you use. I consciously consider how much I trust the person I am referring and choose an approach accordingly:

• Level 1: Suggestion – Bob I would recommend that you connect with Sam
• Level 2: Name – Bob do reach out to Sam and feel free to mention my name
• Level 3: Email – Bob I’ll email introduce you to Sam
• Level 4: Meeting – Bob I’ll invite you and Sam for lunch

The second way to qualify a referral is through the words you use. Personally I use words like:

• “Bob and I have just met and I think you may like to meet him also”
• “Bob has been a supplier for years and has always delivered an excellent service”
• “Bob is a long standing friend and I would very much like you to meet”

Given that you can qualify a referral it means that you can afford to be generous in the number of referrals you give. If you would like to receive more referrals the most important thing you can do is to build greater trust with your network of relationships. Become more intentional about developing deeper trust with the people who can refer you and your products and services.

Question: How do you build greater trust with your referrer network?

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

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