How do you chase up referrals you’ve been promised?

by Andy Lopata on August 30, 2012 · 2 comments

What do you do when someone has promised you a referral but you haven’t heard anything?

It can be a very uncomfortable situation. After all, they’ve promised to do something for you but there’s no obligation on them to follow up. If you press too hard you may well not only lose the potential introduction but damage the relationship you have.

Many people, facing this risk, will take the safer option and hope that the promised referral materialises. But what if your Champion has simply forgotten? How much new business is left on the table because we’re too nervous to remind people of the commitments they’ve made?

I’m a firm believer that you are perfectly within your rights to follow up in such situations, but you need to do so in a way that still makes the giving of the referral a pleasure and never a chore.

Recently I promised to refer a good friend of mine. Before doing so I needed to see some of the material he wanted me to recommend, so he sent it across. I then asked him to email me some information on the deal he was offering so that I could get my introduction correct. The information arrived on a Wednesday morning.

On Thursday afternoon I received a call from my friend asking whether I had received his email and if I could make the introductions promised as early as possible. I explained that I was out for the day but would get in touch with the companies I had in mind as soon as I could.

I received another call on the Tuesday to chase up the referral. I explained that since we had spoken I had been focused on my own business, as I was delivering a workshop that day and had been finalising my preparations. The calls were beginning to irritate me; I had every intention of making the referrals but would do so at my own pace.

My friend also came across as desperate for the business because of the intensity of his calls. And that’s never a good look. I knew that his need was short-term, but couldn’t represent that to potential clients of his, and as much as I want to support him, had deadlines of my own to meet.

Fortunately my friend took my well-intentioned advice to heart and has taken a step back. I’ve sent his information onto a number of contacts so far and am looking for genuine interest before setting up any referrals. He understands this. I’m also doing it at my own pace, and he understands this too.

However, should he not hear from me I have no problem with him reaching out to me again. Only this time, instead of pushing me, he can ask in a lighter tone, “Did you have a chance to speak with any of the companies you had in mind yet?”, or ask for feedback as a subtle way of reminding me, “What responses have you had when you’ve talked about what I’m offering?”

I’ve tried to make things easier by communicating back to him what progress I’m making. He shouldn’t now feel the need to chase me up as I email him and let him know the feedback I’m getting as soon as I receive it.

How do you remind people who have promised to refer you? Or do you bury your head in the sand and hope that the referral materialises?

I asked members of my LinkedIn Business Networking Strategy Group for their thoughts and you can read their comments here. Please let me know your own views either on that forum or on this blog.

Andy Lopata
Labelled ‘Mr Network’ by The Sun, Andy Lopata was called ‘one of Europe’s leading business networking strategists’ by the Financial Times. The co-author of two books on networking, Andy‘s third book, ‘Recommended: How to Sell Through Networking and Referrals’ was published by Financial Times Prentice Hall in July 2011.


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Stella Nicholson November 8, 2012 at 20:38

Love the article but how do I print it out for future reference? There is every button under the sun but I cannot see a print one.
Many thanks


Andy Lopata November 12, 2012 at 16:20

Thank you Stella.

I’m pleased you enjoyed the blog, thanks for your feedback. I don’t know if the blog webmaster has a more technical solution but you can right click anywhere on the page (unless you’re on a Mac of course) and then click Print. Let me know if that doesn’t work for you and I’ll ask the site hosts.



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