How to Make the Most from a Referral

When someone agrees to refer you for a potential job, a sales opportunity, or a romantic relationship, you have a responsibility to pursue it gracefully. Here are Get-It-Done Guy's tips on making the most of a referral.

Stever Robbins
5-minute read
Episode #310

The Sales Call

For a sales call, your attention is on them and their needs. Your preparation should be around designing questions to understand their needs. Not any needs, but the needs that your product can solve. In your actual meeting, you get as quickly as possible to their needs, and then, show them how you can meet those needs.

You are representing The Russian. The Russian is very respectful of people's time, so make sure you know how long they have available, and get a sense for how quickly they want to get down to business. Time your conversation and presentation to fit within their time constraints.

The Romantic Night Out

For a schmoopie referral, also called a blind date, the rules are a bit different. It's not just about their needs, it's about finding out if you'll both get your needs met.

Don't get straight to the point! Romance is built on subtlety, on flirting, on being coy. Nothing ends a date faster than saying "Please give me a list of your physical and emotional needs, so I can see whether we're a good fit."

And guys - it's just guys who need to hear this - do not under any circumstances say "You're so hot, I think I'm going to have to take off my clothes soon. Let's get married. We can get it annulled within 24 hours if the sex isn't any good!" The answer will be "No," and it should be. Remember that they're going to go give The Russian a full report. Be a gentleman.

After the Contact

Once your referral meeting is over, send a thank-you note. Thank the Russian for the introduction and give a brief summary of the outcome.

"Hey Russian, thanks to your referral, I've found a job in the satisfying industry of blowing up helium balloons for birthday parties."

Also send Incredible Person a handwritten thank-you note too, if this was a business referral. If this was a blind date, sending the other person a note of thanks is weirdly stalkerish.

"Dear Incredible Person, Thanks to our talk, I've taken classes and can now blow up 6 helium balloons at a time, and twist each one into a little balloon version of Alice B. Toklas or Gertrude Stein."

If the referral was job-related, in 6 weeks, send both of them a one or two paragraph note thanking them again and updating them on your status. That's what they get out of it; the joy of helping.

See also: Choosing a Mentor


Referrals are a major tool for learning and finding jobs, making sales, and building romantic relationships. Make your introducer look good, put all the attention on the person you're introduced to, and follow up gracefully. You'll build a reputation as someone who people want to help, and more importantly, someone who will listen for hours to their stories about their kids. Then they'll hire you and make you CEO.

Referrals and other images courtesy of Shutterstock.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT. 

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