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The World's Worst Networker

Manage Your Referrals’ Expectations

Are you referrals sources telling potential clients too much about you and your business?

In a recent conversation, a colleague of mine was lamenting over a situation she found herself in. She told me that she had a new client that took up a tremendous amount of her time and that ofher staff. The client was at times extremely belligerent and very demanding to the point where each interaction consumed most of my colleague’s energy and her day.

I asked her why is she working with this particular client? She replied that it was a referral from a very good friend and she did not want to disappoint her friend who was also a major source of business referrals. As the story unfolded, it turned out that the source of the referral “oversold” the prospect on my colleague’s company’s services and abilities. The prospect was left to believe that my colleague’s company could do almost anything, in record time and that they would be at the prospect’s beck and call. This created a very uncomfortable situation for my colleague who decided she was just going to “grin and bear it” until the project was completed.

Over the years, much has been written about the importance of exceeding your customer’s expectations. While this is incredibly important in business when it comes to networking, you must first manage the expectations of your potential customer by educating the source of the referral, first.

For example, your referral source may be so excited to give a referral to you that they over-state your abilities and availability. On other occasions, the source may tell the prospect that you have the “lowest price” while that may not be the case. Because they are being referred by someone who they know and trust, sometimes the prospect automatically expects a discount or some other kind of special service or perks. In most cases, this will happen because of the source’s over-statements before they even gave you the referral and always because of a lack of understanding between you and the referral source.

Since the prospect is coming to you via a word-of-mouth referral, the source must always communicate accurate information about you and your business to those they will be referring. You need to tell your source exactly how they should promote you, what to say and how to say it to a prospect, before they even speak to the prospect. You also need to tell them what you will say and do for that prospect when they communicate or meet with you after the referral is made. That way there are little or no misunderstandings and the expectations are set between the three people involved.

Don’t be one of the The World’s Worst Networkers and leave it up to the referral source to figure it out or, even worse, leave it up to chance. By teaching your source what to say, how to say it and what you will do for the prospect, it will make it easier for you to manage, meet and exceed everyone‘s expectations.


Here’s an animated adaptation of the article:

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