One of my favorite prospecting experts, Art Sobczak of Business By Phone, recently gave some terrific advice for anyone trying to cultivate referral sources: "Call people and tell them you are thinking about them."
Simple, right? Well, yes—and no. As Art points out, people love to hear they're on your mind, but you can't just call or show up on their doorstep with no good reason to take up their time. He asks if you've ever been guilty of these very poor methods of staying connected:
The Probation Officer Approach: "Just checking in with you..."
The Baseball Opening: "Just wanted to touch base with you..."
The I've Got Too Much Time on My Hands Call: "Thought I'd give you a call to see how it's going..."
The point is, if you're not adding value, you're wasing their time, and yours.
What you want to do, Art writes, is:
"...call with some news, an idea, something you heard or saw that could benefit them, a sale or promotion they could take advantage of...anything that would cause them to say, 'Oh, that's interesting stuff.'
'Hi Jim, it’s Pat at Universal Services. I was reading some new performance reports, and I started thinking about you. I realized that you might be interested in what these reports had to say, because of what you mentioned on our last call about...'"
When you read a newspaper or a magazine or a blog, be on the lookout for items that might be of interest to the potential referral sources in your network. Share snippets of conversation or things you learn from clients and prospects that you think might be valuable to them.
Better yet, offer the other guy some referrals first: "When Mrs. Jones mentioned this problem with her father's estate, I immediately thought of you and your expertise with this type of situation."
Find value-added ways to let people know you're thinking of them, touch them regularly, and be patient—and watch the referrals start to flow.
Read Art's complete post, "I'm Thinking about YOU," here.