Giving & Getting Referrals

If you are new to networking, you might find it a bit overwhelming to think about giving referrals to everyone and trying to get referrals from everyone.

Giving a referral is actually very easy. Giving a quality referral that leads to closed business, takes a little more work.

Getting a referral is also easy, if you teach people who you want to meet and what signs they should look for.


Who is it that you want to meet? It might be someone in an industry, such as REALTORS, someone at a company, or even a specific person. The more specific you can be, the more likely you are to get the referral you want.

A good way to ask for someone is to structure it like this:

– Industry
– Company
– Department
– Title
– Person

You might not have something for each level – adapt it to what you do have. Here’s an example:

“I would like to meet Ernesto Zapata, who is the Chief Shoe Inspector, in the Quality Assurance Department, of Zapata Shoes, which is in the Clothing Industry.”

Notice that I worked backwards on the categories. You could do it either way:

“I would like to meet a person in the Clothing Industry, at Zapata Shoe Company, in the Quality Assurance Department, he is the Chief Shoe Inspector and his name is Ernesto Zapata.”

The reason for breaking it out like this is so people hearing it can think about all of the levels. Maybe they don’t know Ernesto, but they might know the chief shoe inspector at another company. Or, they might know someone else in the clothing industry.

Perhaps you are in a business that is difficult for some people to refer to. What you could do then, is ask for introductions to people who can refer business to you.

The best way to be able to give referrals is to get to know the people in your network. Schedule 1-to-1’s with them to learn about their business and for them to lear about yours. Once you understand the other person’s business well enough to talk about it, ask them who they would like to meet. You can use the attached diagram to help with this.

Referral Circle

In the center of the circle, put the ideal client. You might have many ideal clients – create a circle for each.

On each spoke, put 1 person who talks to that ideal client.


  • Level-5 – this is where you make the sale and hand me a check. It’s very rare that you would have a situation like this.
  • Level-4 – for this level, you set up a meeting with me, the person to whom you are referring me, and YOU. You then do a personal introduction and can either stay for our meeting or leave. This is the most effective introduction, as you are giving an in-person introduction.
  • Level-3 – similar to Level-4 where you set up a meeting, but you don’t attend.
  • Level-2 – you do a basic introduction (possibly via e-mail) to each of us, but no meeting is set up.
  • Level-1 – you get permission to give me contact information for someone who might be interested in my services (and you say nice things about me), but you don’t do a formal introduction or set up a meeting. Though always appreciated, it would be more effective to bump this up to a higher level.