When you call and say, “Hey, I do this; let’s get together and see if we can help each other,” do you know how many other times that person has received the same call from your competitors? Too many.

  • Think creatively and work hard to offer real value to the people in your target market -- handing out business cards, pens, notepads and calendars is not good enough in today's economy.
  • Do not ask for business or referrals at the same time you're giving value.
  • If you want to get referrals, you need to become a referral generator.

Nick Najjar wrote a great article recently titled “3 secrets to multiplying your real estate business referrals.”

Here’s the rundown:

  1. Ask your past clients to introduce you to other local business owners and professionals
  2. Call them, and say “hey, (past client name) told me to give you a call. I help many (insert their profession) with their client’s real estate needs. I’d love to meet up for coffee and talk about how we can help each other.”

Now, I 100 percent agree with “connect people, and you will be connected.” Again, Nick, you’re awesome for writing this article.

As a local professional in fitness with a fiancé who was a real estate agent, I know firsthand that the law of reciprocity is real.

However, there is a flaw to the execution plan laid out above. And this is not just by Najjar. Every single referral-based marketing coach in real estate (whom I’ve followed, at least) — and the ones who exist in other professions — are not telling you the most important piece of the puzzle.

And this is what I’m going to outline today: the missing secret to getting more referrals. The part that no one highlights — because I actually don’t think they have an answer.

And because I’ve been the local professional on the other side of the table when an agent calls me with this script, and I have also tried this approach myself to see if it could get more clients from it, I do have the answer, and I’m going to share it with you today.

But first, let’s back up and reveal the two flaws in the standard referral generation plan.

No differentiation, no value — no one cares

When you call and say, “Hey, I do this; let’s get together and see if we can help each other,” do you know how many other times that person has received the same call from your competitors? Too many.

Therefore, you have no differentiation factor, which equals no value to the other party, and as a result, he or she don’t give a shit about you. Sorry.

That’s the cold hard truth, and if you’ve ever received a call like this (likely from a lender or mortgage broker), you know I’m right.

You respond with something like, “Hey, no worries. I work with someone already who does what you do. Take care, bye.”

Why the old-school system doesn’t work: my time, as the person you are trying to get referrals from, is precious. And I know you say, “Hey, let’s help each other.” But that’s code for “I want you to give me referrals.”

Seriously, we’re in 2016, people. Stop following referral generation systems made in the ’90s! Times have changed. People are smarter now.

You cannot ask for something (a referral) at the same time you give value (information, referral, gift). Otherwise, it ruins the gift; the other party sees what you’re doing as a scheme to get something.

Your action steps should be to: give; wait; give again; wait; give more; wait. Then straight up ask. If any of you follow Gary Vaynerchuk, he refers this as “jab, jab, jab, right hook.” (You can hear more about this at Inman Connect San Francisco in August, where he’ll be the keynote speaker.)

The new school system does work. If I know you, like you, trust you and you’ve given me value without asking for anything, then call me, and say, “Hey Grant, I can take on another client right now, do you know anyone who is looking to buy or sell a home?”

And I will go, “Hey Nick, one second, let me think. Let me go through my phone and see if I can connect you.” This is how people operate in 2016.

At least millennials — I am one — and I know you all want to target millennials as well.

Giving value is not that easy

Because we all know giving referrals does ensure referrals come back, the problem is that all these referral systems just assume that you, the real estate agent, can just go meet someone for coffee and give them referrals and value, at any time during the year.

This is the missing secret top performers don’t want you to know.

If it were easy to refer business, everyone would be doing it every single day, multiple times a day. However, it’s just not that easy to refer business to someone, and all these “plans to get referrals” just gloss over this point.

This was my realization and my fiancé’s realization, and I have hundreds of real estate clients who have the same issue.

Furthermore, here are the real questions that need to be answered to blow up your business:

  1. How can I get business owners, professionals and homeowners to want to meet me, without even an introduction from a past client — because then, without having to depend on others to grow my network, I can crank up the speed at which my network grows?
  1. What can I give, every single time, to others, in my first meeting with them, without having to ask for anything in return?
  1. How do I become a referral generator?

These were the questions that allowed me to come up with a solution to meet more people, add more value and systematically generate referrals for my business.

And there should be a whole article on “how to be a referral generator,” but it all boils down to knowing these four things about people:

  1. What do they do?
  2. What do they need?
  3. What are their goals?
  4. What do they like?

Because when you know this information:

  • You can connect them with people who need products or services.
  • You can connect them with professionals you know who can solve their problems and help them achieve their goals.
  • You can share information that you know they will like.

Now, how do you get this information from people?

I bet you can come up with many ideas.

Because once you become a referral generator, you’re not meeting people to see if you can help each other; you’re meeting people to give value without asking or anything in return.

Why do you do this?

Because in today’s economy, you need to give, give, give and then just straight up ask.

Grant Findlay-Shirras is the CEO of Parkbench.com and the Local Leader Real Estate Marketing System. Follow Grant on Instagram and Twitter @MrParkbench.

Email Grant Findlay-Shirras.

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