Recently one of my friends asked me for a referral for a service I don’t provide – but that I know several local experts who do. I made three e-mail introductions, and while I don’t know who my friend chose, I do know who I would recommend she choose, and why. I know there is a referral software program I could use to track this, but for this time, I just e-mailed all three of the people and copied in my friend for an introduction.

Here’s what happened:

Referral Partner A e-mailed back to both my friend and I within 45 minutes of my initial e-mail, and had an appointment scheduled to meet up and do a needs analysis within three business days. He didn’t ask for any clarification of what was needed, but offered to meet in person to do an assessment. He also sent me a private text message thanking me for the referral.

Referral Partner B replied back to both of us a week later, asking for more information about the project.

Referral Partner C, to my knowledge, still has not replied.

I don’t know if my friend has made a decision on who to go with yet, but I know who will get more referrals from me in the future – Referral Partner A, and here’s why:

1) Received a prompt response – Truly, a 45 minute response time is amazing. I was hoping for less than 24 hours. This exceeded my expectations.

2) Kept me in the loop – Copying me in on the response to let me know it was taken care of is HUGE for me. I like to help, and know my friends are well taken care of.

3) Was sent a private thank you – Sure, there was a thank you to the introductory e-mail, but the extra step of being grateful in a private message to me truly warmed my heart. It was a great extra step, and it made me smile.

The key here is to be prompt, personal, and keep me (the referral partner) in the loop. This helps me feel smart and part of the process, and not used and abused as just another shiny quarter in my friend’s pocket – or worse, like someone whose referrals aren’t worth following up on.

Completing these steps means I’ll continue to refer business time after time to you. Missing these steps means you don’t value me as a friend, or as a business associate.

Which referral partner do you prefer, and more importantly, which referral partner is your business? (If you’re not referral partner A and you’re wondering why you’re not getting the referrals you deserve, maybe it’s time you fix the way you take care of your referral partners.)