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Finding the ‘hook’ for more referrals

At BNI, we always do the 60-second presentation, which is where everybody gets the opportunity to stand up and tell a little bit about their business, what they do, the kind of people they do it for and what they’re looking for this week.

You might mention the kind of business you’d like an introduction to, or you might name a specific business, or maybe even a specific person. Then, the other members over the course of the week will try to find introductions for that person for those particular businesses. And that’s how we pass referrals within BNI.

If I may blow my own trumpet, I’m quite good at passing referrals to people, so would you like to know the secret to how I manage to pass so many referrals?

It’s not because I’m a naturally communicative person or like to talk to people. In fact, I don’t even like people. I’m not particularly fond of myself most of the time. I spend most of my days sat behind a computer trying not to interact with the outside world, so that’s not how I pass referrals.

I do it by looking for a ‘hook’, so what do I mean by that?

Let’s give you a hypothetical example – Zoe is an accountant. Let’s say in her 60 seconds, Zoe stood up and said, “I’m looking for introductions to businesses that need an accountant”. Can I use any sort of hook there? What if I met you and said, “I know Zoe, she’s an accountant, could I introduce her to you?”

What would you say? Probably not “ooh, yes please!” Most people would either say “I’ve already got an accountant” or “I do it myself, thank you.”

But let’s say Zoe was a bit more specific. She stood up and said, “I’d like an introduction to a technology company”. Now imagine you run a technology company, and I say to you “would you like an introduction to Zoe because she’s an accountant looking to speak with technology companies?” You’d still probably say no, because what’s in it for you?

What if Zoe was even more specific? What if she stood up and said, “I’d like to speak to a technology company because they tend to have very high growth and it means they’re worth a lot of money to my business”. Okay, so that’s the reason why Zoe wants to speak to a technology company, but would you like to speak to an accountant called Zoe simply because you own a technology company and you’re worth a lot of money to her? Again, it’s unlikely.

So let’s be ultra-specific. Imagine Zoe stands up and says, “I’d like to speak to a technology company because, depending on what they do, they may be able to do something called research and development claims, which allows them to put a portion of their staffing costs going back a few years and claim it against tax, potentially saving them tens of thousands of pounds.” Now you finally might be interested!

That’s how I try to pass referrals. I don’t want to introduce somebody because you’ve mentioned who they are or what you do or why you would want to speak to them. I need to know why they would want to speak to you. When I pass introductions to people, they’re not simply accepting an invitation to talk to somebody, they actually want to speak to you because you can help them.

Next time you do your 60 seconds, if you are asking for something specific or a particular company and interest, don’t tell everyone why you want to speak to them. Tell us why they want to speak to you. That will make it far easier for everybody else to introduce you and pass referrals to you, and we’ll all get a lot more business!

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