A Referral Can Be A Wonderful Thing

During 2013, I have received some excellent referrals. The referrals that have turned into new business came from two longtime contacts and a client. The two contacts are, like me, people who have both media and PR backgrounds. I appreciate the fact that these referrers thought enough of me, personally and professionally, to share these referrals.

Many referrals I have received over the years have been from friends and associates to businesses and organizations that the referrer thought needed my services. But upon talking to the prospect, I would learn quickly that, while they liked my ideas, they did not want or have the means to pay for my services.

This is one of the hazards of certain networking organizations. I was a member of one for a year, back in 2009-2010. I met many wonderful individuals. I learned a lot about small business owners and their needs. I picked up some new business as a result of my membership. But most of the referrals I got were to business owners who had little interest in what I offered. (Because of the way that particular organization is structured, members are required to give referrals and not all are good ones.)

I try to meet, at least briefly, with most everybody I am referred to. Business development is important for any business owner. I plan each time to listen more than I talk during these meetings, but that does not always happen. Learning the prospect’s needs and budget is the goal, along with sharing my story.

One prospective client with whom I met this summer (referred by one of my son’s friends) faces the dilemma of not having enough sales to afford PR. Her story is compelling and would generate significant media interest, which would lead to needed sales. Maybe someday she will have enough revenue to afford PR help. There is also, sadly, a chance that her business will not survive into 2014.

A great referral is one that comes with a testimonial, such as: “I know this guy. He works hard. He’s smart, always thinking. He’s honest. And he gets results.” But with or without such compliments, the best referrals are the ones that lead to new business. Thanks, friends.

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