I read and enjoyed Chris Pollinger's last week's featured post on Building a Referral Machine. It was well-written and obviously quite well-received by the AR crowd. However, being the argumentative sort that I am, I'd like to, well, argue!
Actually, I'm not really arguing. Just offering some alternatives. In my years of coaching agents on their own referral-building efforts, I've found that many are uncomfortable with the idea of aggressively pursuing business and referrals from the people they know and the people they meet... so, for you... see how you feel about THESE referral-building philosophies...
Go out in the world with your antenna up... and your business cards in the car
Whenever you leave the house, you have an opportunity to meet someone who could end up being your biggest fan. You NEVER know who that person will be, so smile at everyone, make eye contact, dress for success (doesn't mean you have to dress UP, just leave the sweats and hair curlers at home. You want to feel sexy and sassy when in public, even at Wal-Mart). But never accost a new friend with your business card unless they ask for it.
Never create or even imply any sense of obligation within your relationships.
Contrary to urban myth, pursuing mutually obligatory relationships (a la Business Networking Groups, leads groups, etc.) is not an effective method to building strong referral relationships. Most people do not like to feel obligated to someone else; they'd much rather refer from the heart. I've even heard of agents who ask their clients and even friends to sign a contract agreeing to send a certain number of referrals... blech! BE the agent someone is excited to refer to... and it will happen, promise.
Be the SOURCE for your SOI
Become a resource for your sphere of influence, not necessarily for real estate-specific information, but as The Person Who Knows People. Create a referral directory for common household and personal services. Create a list on your website of People Who Have Done a Good Job for You and post it on your website.
Be a heck of a real estate agent
This is by far the best way to generate referrals... be worthy of them!!!!
Show Your Appreciation for Referrals.
There are two ways to show the people who refer to you that you're delighted with the referral. First, take exceptional care of your new client. The word will get back to the original referrer and will make him feel smart for referring to you. Second, send a nice thank-you note. You don't need to offer any financial reward or give an expensive gift; seriously, you don't. People just want to be appreciated and they didn't send a referral your way to get a free toaster. Just never, ever, ever bribe or advertise any gift or incentive for sending referrals your way - it's unprofessional and hints of desperation.
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Many disagree with my softer, less aggressive approach to generating referrals... but it's worked for me... for years... However, there are many paths to success in a real estate business... choose one that fits your feet and get moving!
Time is Running Out...