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BNI San Diego Members Learn That When You’re Specific, Referrals are Terrific!

2011 September 12
by Debbra_Sweet

Specificity is a word often not heard in day-to-day language.   However, in the language of referrals, it is a cornerstone that should be understood.

Most people who engage in the practice of networking for the sake of building their business are actually out communicating with people for the hope and intention of getting business by referral. That seems to be an obvious statement- and for many people, the HOW- behind getting amazing referrals eludes them.

One of the fundamental changes that professional networkers learn, understand, and apply- is the importance of being very specific when you ask for a type of referral.

Humans are very visual people. We think in pictures. Even people who are audible or tactile in their thought process first, will benefit by applying the strategy of being very specific when giving or asking for a referral.  The reason specificity is so important is that it allows a visual person to actually create a vision around the details of what is being asked.  This helps memory recall. It can trigger a referral when it shows up.

For people who are audible- the specific details that are translated or taught when asking for a referral- are heard. It is the details that will help that person listen for a referral.  For people who are kinetic or tactile, often they will write down the details of the specific ask. That helps them recall to give you the referral.
The action of specificity brings about amazing results. It may be counter-intuitive for many people at first to speak this way when asking for a referral. However, the learning curve is short on this one. Taking one step to change how you ask for a referral can open up new doors and new opportunities from the very first time you apply this strategy.

Personally, I remember the first time I applied this. I was looking to connect with a marketing director at a company up in L.A. Since I was networking locally,  I had done my research and knew with a specific name, title, Department, and company address that the L.A. contact had.  I really wasn’t sure how well this strategy would work, so as a ‘back up’, I also researched out to local contacts here in the San Diego area who worked for the same company.

When I went into my local BNI chapter the following week,  I applied specificity in my commercial referral ask- and asked for the introduction to what the local contact. It was amazing, what happened that day.

We had a substitute for one of our members. She stood up and told me that she did not know the local San Diego contact- but she was best friends with the marketing director up in L.A!  (I was quickly humbled- because that was really who I needed to get in contact with. ) I thanked our substitute and told her thank you and that I would love to talk to her contact up there. :)

My specificity got me what I was looking for with a single referral. But wait… there’s more!  Another person stood up in our networking meeting and said they would personally introduce me to the local marketing contact that I specifically asked for. On top of that, one more person gave me a third referral. It was not a referral for that exact company, but someone in a similar company.

The outcome of my learning curve? I was specific in my search for the details of the type of person that I wanted to get introduced to. I carried that specificity into my referral ask for a personal introduction to the person that I researched.

Stepping out of the comfort zone with the willingness to apply a strategy that is known to work-only caused temporary discomfort. :) The result of three referrals (two of which were exactly what I was looking for) were very worth that new action in how to get great referrals.

If you are asking for an introduction to ‘someone, anyone, any person, anybody’ in your commercials…  quickly change your language and be very specific about who you would like to meet.   This is one of those times that if you ask- you will receive.

Debbra Sweet
Director Consultant

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