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Plant the “Introduction Seed” and Watch it Grow

Moving beyond asking "who do you know"

Most of you are well beyond asking the old-school “who do you know?” type of questions when looking for client referrals. Our research has shown that approach makes many clients feel uncomfortable. 

However, we do want to make sure clients know the importance of introductions and referrals to our business, as well as connecting us with their friends and family members when appropriate.

One way to achieve this is by planting seeds in conversation. You basically want to send the message that you grow by referral and you’re always open to meeting new people. Done properly, you’re putting out the “open for business” sign and offering some guidance on how these introductions typically work.

There are three times when it makes the most sense to plant introduction seeds: 

If you’re talking to a prospective client….

“You know I’m really glad that (client name) introduced us at (venue).  I’ve been working with (client name) for 12 years now — they’re a great family — much like yours. I find myself often thinking about how fortunate we are at this stage to work with people who not only need our services — but who are good people as well.”

If you’re talking to a brand new client…

“I’m looking forward to working with you — we have a great family of clients with so many long standing relationships. Fortunately, we’re able to be selective with who we work with now — I’m at the stage where I only take on a new client through introduction. By the way, if you run into anyone you think we might want to meet, I’m always open for buying lunch or drinks just to get acquainted.”

With existing clients…

“I’ve got a number of connections with CPAs, attorneys, physicians, and other professionals — so if you ever need assistance in finding a professional, just let me know. I’ll be happy to introduce you. (Pause) And if you ever run into a situation where you know someone you think might benefit from our services, just let me know. I’m always open for buying lunch or drinks just to get acquainted.” 

Basically, you’re planting seeds with clients about the importance of introductions to your business, without outright asking the “who do you know?” type of question. Match this with the proactive, but still non-salesy approach for Arranging Personal Introductions, and you’re truly leveraging the power of relationship marketing.


@StephenBoswell is President of The Oechsli Institute and author of Best Practices of Elite Advisors@KevinANichols is the Chief Operating Officer for The Oechsli Institute and author of The Indispensable LinkedIn Sales Guide for Financial Advisors.

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