The Power of Connection – A Series

by Dale

Have you ever heard other business owners say they never get referrals? What they are usually referring to is an association event they have attended, a group they belong to, a person they met, etc.

I met just such a person recently at a party. He told me that he couldn’t seem to get anyone to refer him although his credentials were impeccable. I mentioned a couple of organizations that might be helpful to him and that I had worked with a few clients that had experienced success by attending.

The next thing I knew, I got an email from him asking me if I could introduce him to all the people I know in that space. Excuse me?

What’s wrong with this picture? Hint: the answer could shed some light on your own referral ability.

1. When I met him, he only talked about himself and the woefully hard time he had despite his expertise. Comment: If you have a one-sided conversation about only your needs, expect that hardly anyone will bother to take the time to help you. The bad news is – it’s not about you.

2. When he emailed me, his request was unreasonable considering that I had only had a 10 minute conversation with him. Comment: This is a process and it’s about building a relationship of trust, camaraderie, mutual benefit and mutual respect. If any of those pieces are missing, it has little chance to evolve.

3. Just having a short conversation doesn’t form much of a connection. Comment: What if you started a conversation by asking them some more surprising questions? This gets them to respond more authentically and thereby forms a deeper connection. Isn’t that what this is about?

Finally, the big key is following up. Do you take all the steps necessary to form a deeper connection?

* Write a note of appreciation
* Post a comment on their blog
* Tweet about them to others
* Introduce them to someone on email
* Invite them to lunch with others who have the same target client but are not competitive with them

These things seem obvious, but in 12 years on my own, I see very few people execute the referral process well. What would improve yours?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Tony Dahm September 30, 2011 at 3:39 pm

Hi Dale,

Good stuff!



Tony Dahm September 30, 2011 at 3:40 pm

Hi Dale,

Good stuff!


Jane Dolente October 1, 2011 at 9:09 am


Thanks for shedding light on this important topic. In the my experience a deep human need is to feel appreciated and valued. Making a referral is a double win. Both sides of the referral process get to enjoy feeling valued. If making a referral seems too hard, I suggest practicing building your referral muscles by starting with making introductions. They are usually lower pressure. “I want to introduce you two because I think you may have some business interests in common.” What would happen if we made it a goal to make an introduction for every new person we meet?


Beville May October 1, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Hey Dale,
Great ideas as always from you!
I would love to hear you address the following dilemma in a future post.
What do you do when you meet a great business prospect, and ask them to coffee/lunch to deepen the relationship and they don’t even reply? Just walk away?? On to the next possibility?


Susan Thornton October 3, 2011 at 5:59 pm

Always good to be reminded of the simple stuff but so hard to keep it top of mind. Thanks for doing that!!!


Samira Zahner February 18, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Interesting outline. I really like to see clearly Martha


Dale February 19, 2012 at 2:37 pm

Thanks for your comment. I believe there are many parts to this. Stay tuned and contribute the ones that you think are most important too!


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