Priceless Strategies To Help You Win The Referral Game – Part 2

This is the second of three articles looking at how to improve your networking. As a result of doing this you can expect to not only gain more referrals but also give more. In doing this you will also improve your client service.

In the first article we considered the four types of networking groups and a range of networking tactics. Importantly we also looked at the risk involved in giving referrals before we looked at the dangers of networking overkill. Missed the first instalment? You will find it here.


What does it take to develop a solid referral relationship? I know you will have your own tried and tested approach, but we can all improve. When I was managing my accountancy business I would take referrals out to lunch, have them and their partner round for a home BBQ, go to a ball game, go to the theatre. I would also sometimes sending them a good book that had been of interest to me. If your Institute holds an annual event invite your referrals to this. Let them meet one another.

During your conversations, maybe you could discuss the hot topics in your industry. And my age-old advice is to make sure you know at least three personal things about each one of your referrals.

Event etiquette: Having just referred to inviting your professional colleagues to an Institute or, indeed, any other prestigious event, please allow me to make a few observations concerning etiquette. 

First, make sure you arrive at early. I have several what I call ‘power words’ that I find empower and motivate me. One of them is ‘margin’. I turn up at airports way ahead of time, so I have time on hand in case there are delays on the motorway. I see too many people rushing around airports in some state of panic. So, with meetings I always arrive ahead of time. That affords the opportunity to network with early arrivals and move around the room.

Handy work: Sometimes events offer a buffet with hors d’oeuvres. So, with drink in one hand and a plate in the other it is not easy to shake hands. Make sure to keep one hand free. If you are organising the event with food and drink, make sure to invest in wine glass plate clips to overcome this problem for your guests. 

Alcohol limitations: Now, while on the subject of drink… make sure you keep your alcohol intake to a minimum. My own approach is to sidestep alcohol altogether. We all know about the risk of drink-driving, so I just find it a whole lot easier to go zero, but that is, I understand, a personal call. If organising an event ensure you have a good range of non alcoholic drinks.

Who to meet? You may or may not know who is attending an event. Are there people in particular that you would hope to meet? Let’s start by looking at those with whom you should spend, I suggest no more than a cursory amount of time, and that is your work colleagues. Hey, you have plenty of time to connect with them in the office. If you have invited guests, you should certainly ensure they feel welcome. But, if this is a seated occasion, then you will probably have opportunities to play host later. Besides, if you have invited them you will, most likely, be well acquainted. So, allow them the gift of time to network. You may be able to introduce them to someone of interest you know, which would permit you to continue your own networking.

Time to move on. With regard to this you may find that you are with someone and feeling the need to move on. Moving on gracefully and without causing a hint of offence is without doubt an all-important networking skill. Maybe, instead of standing face to face talking you could open your stance so that others might feel more easily able to join in your conversation. Then at some point you could ask to be excused by saying something like, “Would you excuse me?” It’s the type of question that maybe solicits a smile or a nod and maybe an even “of course.”

Making eye contact is important when conversing at a networking meeting. Avoid the temptation to have wandering eyes, maybe looking round at who else you could meet. That will almost certainly be noticed and maybe taken as a somewhat impolite message that you have no further interest in continuing the conversation.


A couple of points that will help improve your networking:

Firstly, make sure you take your own name badge with you. Three tips here.

  1. First, make sure your own badge is branded with your own firm’s name and, maybe, logo. It’s your body – make sure it is your own brand and not the event organisers
  2. Then ensure that the point size of your name is legible from 4 metres (circa 12 feet), and finally
  3. Keep a supply of these with you in your car and business case – you never know when your badge might next be needed.

The second recommend is to make sure you focus on collecting business cards rather than giving them out. By all means hand out your card provided you collect the other person’s card.

Key question: Having just referred to attending events organised by others, can I ask, does your firm hold networking events?

I trust you have gleaned some valuable insights into improving your networking. In the final instalment of this series, we will look at some powerful insights and strategies into improving seminar networking before we conclude with 10 Essential Networking Tips