That olโ€™ referral black magic

When’s the last time you asked for a referral to a service provider (like a lawyer, coach, or developer)? How did it turn out?

If it didn’t go so great (e.g., you couldn’t find a referral, the service providers you were referred to didn’t quite hit the mark), have you ever asked yourself why it turned out that way? Or what could you change about how you ask for referrals to service providers so that you get connected with great people next time?

I’ve learned over the years that when I ask for a referral to a service provider, I get more and better referrals when I make two optimizations.

First, get more specific about who you’re looking for

  • Example #1, a ‘squishy’ ask: “Hey Kai, know any coders?”
  • Example #2, a ‘specific’ ask: “Hey Kai, know any PHP developers who specialize in Payment Gateway Integration?”

The more specific you get, the easier it will be for the people you ask to go, “I know exactly who I should connect you with.” And then they can connect you with them.

Why? Because when you make a squishy ask, it’s much more challenging for the person you’re asking to think of a match. When you make your ask more specific, it’s easier for the person you’re asking to think of and share their answer, no matter the topic:

  • “Know any good books?” vs. “Know any collections of short stories about time travel by science fiction authors?”
  • “What’s a good place to eat in town?” vs. “What’s a good sushi restaurant in town that has vegan options?”
  • “Know any single people?” vs. “Know any single people who are into mountain biking and rock climbing, love tea, and don’t drink alcohol?”

Second, ask more people

The number of people you get connected with is a function of the number of people you ask. As you ask more people, you’ll get connected with more referrals. And the more people you get connected with, the better chance you’ll find that fantastic fit.

So, ask more people.

Next time youโ€™re seeking a referral to a service provider, the above advice will help you connect with more + better people.

But it has radical implications for how you can get more client referrals in your business. In tomorrowโ€™s letter, more on how you can get more referrals, build referral systems to put your referral marketing on autopilot, and start to ask for intentional referrals.



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