Let’s answer three questions. All three are rhetorical, but answering them is important.
First, how many referrals have you given or will you give without a friend asking you for one?
Second, when is the last time you hired someone without getting that person's name from someone you know? Very rarely, if ever, do we hire a stranger off the Internet or off the street, no matter how trivial the task. We ask around. In fact, the more crucial the task, the more we ask around. And we don’t ask just anyone. We qualify in our minds the person we are asking.
Third, when is the last time you sat around with your friends and discussed each other's personal finances? My friend, Marvin Brown, applies a phrase from international politics: territorial integrity. You don’t go there. Friends don’t let friends discuss money. We might talk about the great crown moldings we just had built for our living room. We are not going to talk about the great IRA plan our advisor just set up for us. A highly skilled master carpenter has a lot easier time getting referrals than a highly skilled financial advisor.
In my opinion, people do not want to and will not refer the professional you to their friends. They will, however, refer the real you to their friends if they like you, if they trust you and if they think you are smart. We all do business with people we like and trust.
Let people get to know the real you. They don’t want to trust the numbers. They want to trust you. When they leave your office, they don’t talk about portfolio modeling. They talk about you. What are your values? Are you a good dad? Are you a good mom? Where did you grow up? What lessons did you learn and apply as a kid? When was the last time you did the right thing, even though it cost you money? Here’s a suggestion: Read Annette Simmons’ book, Whoever Tells The Best Story Wins. She will tell you how to build your “Who I Am" story.
So, how many referrals have you given or will you give without a friend asking you for one? Most likely, none.
When is the last time you hired someone without getting that person's name from someone you know? Most likely, never.
When is the last time you sat around with your friends and discussed each other's personal finances? Not since you borrowed beer money as a sophomore in college.
The best prospecting method, hands down, is getting referrals. But, to get referrals, you must be referable, if there is such a word. You want to be the person your clients want to include in their next dinner party—not because you’re a skilled financial advisor; but because you’re fun to be around. You’re socially attractive. You’re witty, urbane, informed and a great conversationalist. You like dogs. You are charismatic. Your spouse or your mate is charming. You tell fascinating stories. Oh, by the way, you’re a financial advisor. Who doesn’t need a good financial advisor?
You’ve got the IQ. Now work on your EQ.
You are not a vendor. Next to the family doctor, you are the most important person that family will ever meet. But you’re not going to succeed unless that family embraces you. Referrals come from the inner circle.