I wish that you had been there. I mentioned at a networking meeting that I was in the market for a local insurance agent that handled two different life insurance companies, and that I did not want to ‘purchase’ insurance because I had good policies. As a newcomer to the area, I wanted someone to service my policies.  My networking buddies responded; I was referred to Margaret simply because she was the most informed agent on earth. I never called Margaret, but I did receive 18 calls in 2 days from insurance agents wanting to ‘sell’ me policies for life, health, auto, home and more. Each of these agents was referred to me as a ‘qualified’ referral from Susan, who was told that I was in the market for insurance.

Forget about the fact that I had never met Susan, and I had to look up her name on Google to find out who she was. Forget about the fact that I never said that I wanted to purchase insurance. Forget about the fact that Susan misrepresented herself as one able to offer qualified referrals.  She made me everyone’s ‘ideal referral.’  Have you experienced something similar in one of the groups to which you belong?

Networking…it is about the process of giving and receiving!  It is about asking for what you want and need to grow your business or improve your life. The ability to identify your needs, and then to communicate them is an art. I clearly communicated my need, or so I thought. Referrals are given when the person with whom you are communicating understands you, your target market, and your business. Are you a master of giving, and receiving referrals through your network?

Fill in the template by outlining your Ideal Referral’s story. This is your starting point. After you complete the template, write out a complete description.

Think about your own idea referral, and fill in the blanks:

  • He/she is passionate about __________________
  • He/she] has always toyed with the idea of (list goals/aspirations)
  • He/she enjoys ___________ , and _______ but does not like _____ , _____ , and _____
  • He/she is [personality:  outgoing, open-minded, likes trying new things, an introvert
  • He/she enjoys reading or listening to (names of authors, motivational speakers, celebrities)
  • He/she is at a place in his/her life where (name) is worried about ___________
  • Name is looking for [the solution] so that ________ [problem that would be fixed]
  • Name currently uses the following forms of social media: [Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, You Tube] or does not use social media.
  • Name enjoys learning via _____ [videos, web classes, seminars, articles, checklists, coaching/consulting, other_         ]
  • He/she is involved in the following organizations/clubs, etc _________________

What’s your ideal referral, and what value do you bring to those to whom you offer ‘qualified’ referrals? Networking is the art of giving and receiving, not misinterpreting someone’s needs.  I was annoyed by Susan and her blatant use of my name and number as someone in need of a policy. Don’t be Susan!

Resolve – to make networking a mutually valuable experience and to make your referrals count!