Get rid of that dreaded first date. A colleague told me that’s what referrals are all about; we skip over that uncomfortable first date, and get personal and down to business.

If you’ve dated in the age of the Internet, it probably went something like this: Before you went out on a date, you emailed back and forth, exchanged photos online, learned about each other’s interests, and then decided to talk on the phone. Did your relationship get serious without an in-person meeting? Probably not.

(Watch my video Top Tip “How to Ask For a Referral”.)

Cut to the Chase

Think about it. When you receive an introduction to your sales prospect, that person knows about you and why it’s beneficial for the two of you to talk. You begin the conversation “knowing about” each other. You skip over the uncomfortable questions that a sales prospect asks (or is thinking) in most initial sales meetings:

  • What is this person trying to sell me?
  • Why does he talk about himself?
  • Please don’t let him ask me what keeps me awake at night?
  • He’s asking questions—when he could have found the answers on the Internet.
  • He’s pitching his product.
  • How fast can I get this guy out of here?

Get Personal, Get In Person

The scenario is positively different when you’ve been introduced. You begin a friendly conversation talking about how you both know the Referral Source. One of the earliest lessons for me on the power of referrals, was after a short phone conversation, the referred prospect (Jim) and I had at a breakfast meeting.

Within the first 10 minutes of our breakfast, Jim shared information that weren’t trade secrets, but certainly wasn’t information that was available in any printed form. He told me he was sharing this information because we were already friends.

Enough said. Get the introduction and skip the awkward first date.

Join the Conversation

What was your first in-person business-referral meeting like? How did the personal referral make a difference in the conversation? (I bet the difference is huge.) Comment here, share your experience, and continue the conversation.