I had the pleasure this morning of presenting at the annual Influitive Advocamp event, celebrating customer engagement, advocacy and referral marketers worldwide.

In addition to some great keynote speakers, the agenda featured numerous 18-minute speed sessions.  Mine this morning featured 22 referral best practices and recommendations in a very fast-paced format!

For those who missed the session or developed a hand cramp in the middle, here’s a quick highlight of each best practices plus the full deck via SlideShare:

  1. Scripts & practice:  We tell our customer-facing people to ask for referrals but rarely tell them exactly how to do it. What talk track would you use?  Why not write it out for your reps and encourage them to both practice and customize it so that they’re more comfortable using it?  I’ve seen numerous examples of this simple tactic working wonders for frequency of the “ask” as well as results.
  2. Never use the LinkedIn tool:  No matter how warm the introduction, LinkedIn-facilitated referrals come across as spammy and cold.  Use LinkedIn actively to identify points of connection, but then ask for the referral to happen through more natural channels such as phone or email.
  3. Read Joanne Black: She’s seriously the queen of referral selling.  Her book No More Cold Calling in particular is a must-read to better understand proven referral sales strategies.
  4. Read To Sell Is Human:  This may be the most important sales book written in the past 10 years, if for no other reason than how  well it explains how real people connect with other real people on topics of mutual interest without feeling like they are closing or hard selling.  A great, quick and important read.
  5. Use value-added assets for introductions:  Stop asking others to introduce you purely in a “you should use them” context.  We know that most of our leads are qualified but not ready to buy, yet we treat referrals as if they’re raring to go!  Instead give your peers and referring partners something of value to share as a means of making the introduction.  A best practice guide, great blog post you recently wrote, something that makes the referral easier and more natural.
  6. Outro:  It used to be called QuotaDeck, but is a slick tool that helps make new introductions and referrals for you based on mutual needs and interests.  It can even work on your behalf automatically behind the scenes to literally generate referrals for you while you sleep.  Worth checking out.
  7. Make yourself more shareable:  How do you get people to share you to their networks more often?   Content is one way.  Funny memes?  Great food pictures or recipes?  A mix of all of the above?  Find the right mix of these for you, and make it easier for others to tell their networks about you.
  8. Use every department in the organization:  Maybe the key to getting into your dream client is through your accountant.  Maybe they’re married to the best friend of the key buyer.  Don’t limit your referrals to your own network and those in your sales organization.
  9. Be more aggressive with LinkedIn connections:  Look at your calendar from yesterday.  Make sure you’re connecting with everyone.  Even just a simple note like “Great to speak with you, I look forward to staying in touch” can over time exponentially increase the size, value and referral yield of your own network.
  10. Be precise about requests:  Don’t just ask people to think about you for referrals.  Look into their network, find 2-3 people you’d like introductions to, and ask for them specifically.  This way it’s a task that can be completed vs. a generic and never-ending thing that will quickly be forgotten.
  11. Be more generous:  Simple but elusive for many.  Give away more ideas.  Give people a few extra minutes of your time.  Be known as someone who will go out of their way to help.  You make the referrer look good in the process, which makes them want to refer you that much more.
  12. Write thank you notes:  And make it a regular habit.  When you want to just write an email or Facebook post, pick up a note card and stamp and make it happen!  If you’re more lazy than that, try MailLift.   Send them a formatted email and retired school teachers (I’m not making this up) will write & send your letters for you.
  13. Leave voicemails:  People may not reply to them, but they listen to them.  Even just a couple seconds of your voice makes a huge difference.  It makes you more memorable, it makes you stand out, it makes you more likely to get the referral with all other things equal.  Little things like this matter.
  14. Follow up:  Another simple but elusive tactic (or habit).  Put another way, do what you say you’ll do.  Make a habit of taking notes of what you promised to do, and review those notes EVERY night or the next morning.
  15. Be synonymous for something:  What’s one thing you do (that you make money on) that you’re better at than anybody?  How do you make that synonymous with your name, business or brand?
  16. Use daily tools…..daily:  Make a habit of scanning and following up with trigger events in Newsle, Accompany, Nudge, Contactually and others.
  17. Make a Daily Do List:  Something you look at every day that reminds you to do many of the habits and tactics above (and more).
  18. Use excuses to reach out:  Birthdays, promotions, whatever.  Simply being in the right place at the right time more often will get you more referrals.  Period.
  19. Respond to EVERY happy birthday message you receive: Your birthday is the most important networking and referral-generating day of the year.  Each one of those inbound notes is an opportunity to engage with someone you might not often reach.  Don’t worry about asking for referrals, just have natural conversations and I guarantee you’ll get new business in return.
  20. Offer free samples:  Not just products but ideas too!  This is a variation on being generous, but with something specific and tangible to deliver even more value.
  21. Write more letters:  Not just thank you notes.  Say congratulations via a letter.  Clip out someone’s press mention and send them a copy.  Little, even dumb, excuses to write a note.  Use MailLift again if you have to, just make your messages stand out more.
  22. Lead with problems you solve (NOT what you do):  If someone in a networking situation asks you what you do, respond as if they asked you what you do to help your customers.  That’s a far better answer.