It Ain’t Me Babe (Issue 564)

In which we are reminded that, when we’re asking people for referrals and introductions, it’s best to say specifically who or what we’re looking for.

I wrote to a friend a while back, asking about her planned retirement date. Some months ago, she shared that she had done well enough in her business that she was planning to retire from her company early this year at the age of forty something.  Much to my delight, she wrote back, saying: “I am exiting at the end of this month and I am still looking for Mr. Right….referrals are always accepted. Hehehehehehehe.”

Ah, the old, “Now that I don’t have a company to run, I’d like to catch up on the relationships I deferred” trick.

So, reflecting on my sense of her,  I wrote back, asking, “So, thinking of referrals…. Tell me about Mr. Right. Are we working the ‘Well, he’s kinda big and he’s awful strong’ angle here?”

To which she replied, “hahahahaha!!! All qualified referrals are welcome: SINGLE, smart, kind, funny, family-oriented, successful, tall, athletic, and likes and could love a strong independent woman.”

Oh, BOY! If I were only single, a few years younger, 30 muscular pounds heavier, a couple of inches taller…

And… I’m not. And that’s the point!  I don’t fit!  I never would have!

But by defining the edges of the box, she helps her referral sources start picking their way through themselves and their friends  looking for the ones who DO fit.

Let’s see… “Single.”  Well, that knocks it down quite a bit in my network.  “Smart.”  Based on her likely standards, a few more gone.  “Kind.”  OK, we’re good there. “Funny.”  Yes, OK, in a twisted sort of way. “Family-oriented.”  Hmmm, hard to tell among the “never married” set… but the “formerly married” ones could fit.  On  and on. (Sadly to discover that, among my immediate circle, nobody fits.  However, gentle readers, if you DO fit…….)

Which is what we want our referral sources to do.   Think creatively about fit and put out the word on our behalf.

Look at how the game changes when she moves from  the very general “I’m looking for Mr. Right, referrals are always accepted” (which is the way most sales people approach this – “Can you think of anyone who could benefit from my services in the way you have?”) to the quite specific “SINGLE, smart, funny etc. etc.” (which, in the business world, translates into something like “companies with sales in the $5 million to $10 million range, growing, adding employees, likely looking to expand their current location or add a location, in industries other than restaurant and hospitality, etc. etc.)

With her specific criteria in mind, we start envisioning “who could be the lucky who” for her.

Now, does she have more criteria than the nine she mentioned?  Haven’t asked, and I’m guessing, “oh, yeah.”

Has she given me and others enough to get started looking on her behalf?  Again, “oh, yeah.”

Is it likely that, if someone fit the nine criteria, they’d be a good candidate for her?  Definitely worth considering.

The specific criteria save her time. They save her referral sources time.  And they help everyone get a better outcome faster – hey, we all know who we’re looking for.

Just as ‘being specific’ with our referral sources will help us find the “Right” ones in our business lives.

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