How Professional Referrals Work

Professional referrals are real
A real referral happens because of authentic delight.

When someone tells another person about a great service they experienced, it has to be authentic. If we ever sense there is any contamination by money, business agreement or the like, we can sniff an obligatory referral from a mile away.

I have found that the people that refer me do so out of pure delight. They know what I have done for them and want to tell someone they can help about their experience. It’s social currency. It’s gratitude. And it’s voluntary.

It’s why I don’t put much weight on affiliate programs, referral fees or anything else that contaminates the experience. I look at business referrals as a business gratitude operating under social norms. Social norms are different than market norms. The former is highly intangible and relies a lot on relationship and social currency. People tell other people about things that make them look good or associate them with something valuable.

Market norms are sterile and numerical. It’s business and measurable. We shift into a different mindset when we think about payments, amounts, etc. It can cause us to negotiate and think without any emotion attached. Social norms are what we relate to doing favors for our mother-in-law or neighbor at no cost. We don’t think in terms of money. We think socially. You can read more about this natural phenomenon in Dan Ariely’s work, Predictably Irrational. Very powerful concepts.

We don’t like feeling manipulated and we don’t like any ruse or guise. I think human beings are pretty adept at detecting these, especially in a referral.

What’s important is that people like you, know what you do and are so delighted that they want to share their experience with someone they like. My job is to be clear and provide immense value.

When you think about your own business, how are you getting referrals? What have you found that drives this?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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