How to implement an effective referral strategy

In conversation with a client a few days ago, I had one of those wonderful (but all too rare) moments when thoughts that have been rolling around in my head finally come together in a coherent statement.
We were discussing referrers (or introducers if you prefer) and how to find the best referrers and then motivate them to provide the desired quantity and quality of referrals.
For some time, I’ve been reviewing referral strategies and success rates of our clients and also our own business to try to find the magic formula. Why is it that some of the referrers we cultivate that know all the right people, are good at getting referrals or making introductions and have a good relationship with us, just don’t seem to provide many (or any) of the referrals we hope for?
Lots of us have read books on building networks, educating referrers etc. and there seem to be a never ending array of seminars, workshops and webinars on the subject, but sometimes it seems that no matter how hard we try the results just don’t happen.
During the recent meeting with my client, we were discussing a very good referrer for them and I suddenly spotted a difference between this referrer and all the others. For this ‘star referrer’, introducing our client actually helps their business. It builds relationships, elevates their status to ‘trusted adviser’ and can even generate additional sales.
In short, introducing our client is part of their business development strategy – it’s not a favour; something they have to remember to do in the hope of reciprocal action; or even an activity that gives them something to report at their next networking meeting. They do it because it helps them grow their own business.
So, here’s a thought for you – don’t select target referrers on the basis of their contacts, business compatability, or membership of networking groups etc. Instead, just look for people where introducing you would genuinely help them achieve their goals and have a conversation with them to see if they agree?
When we become part of our referrers business strategy, the referrals will flow.
Good luck