Why Predictable Referrals Are For Professionals and Not Amateurs

Dig your well before you're thirsty

I have heard it said that the difference between an amateur golfer and professional is two swings.  Taking those two less swings per round, for the professional, works out to a half a million dollars.  The difference between the amateur and professional networker is subtle in execution and massive in its outcomes.  

How much do you make as a #financialadvisor when you get an ideal client by #referral

Don’t forget to multiply annual revenue by the average length of a client relationship.  (Hint: average for my clients is mid to high 5 figures)

I liken it to this:  proactive vs. reactive

Look at the current situation for hiring talent.  If you are waiting (reactive) to find your next hire until you need to hire them (forced to)…you are far less competitive and are likely to have a less than favorable outcome.  

However, if you are proactive when it comes to your hiring strategy (always be recruiting is my exhortation to my clients) you are always open and curious about what talent is out there and replacing or adding staff is less distracting and expensive.  

I cannot tell you how many times clients have said they can’t afford a new staff member and then within 90 days happened across an amazingly talented person and found the money to hire them.  

This only happens when you don’t need new staff urgently.  The sad reality is that most business owners only look at staffing when they lose a current team member and that pressure of needing to fill a spot on the organizational chart rarely provides for optimal hiring.

The same thing happens with networking to establish a predictable referral system.  Most of you that are reading this have a reactive system…you are hoping for beautiful accidents.  Don’t get me wrong.  There is nothing bad about surprise referrals to ideal clients unless you need a new client now, or, want to be free from the tyranny of both modern and traditional marketing/advertising.

The great Harvey McKay, in his book “Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty”, is the primary influencer (apart from the Bible) for my predictable referral system.  The concept is doing the preparatory work to take beautiful accidents (surprise referrals) and make them something that you can plan for, work towards and have the confidence that you will get everything you need from them.


Treat referrals like any other part of your business and, frankly, the most important part.  When you integrate and embed referrals into your entire business everything works better.  Instead of them being an afterthought, referrals are now an explicit part of your culture and communications.

Companies that understand this are able to leverage, appropriately and enthusiastically, their entire staff as a marketing resource.  The same reason you would want your employees effectively using social media is the same reason you already should be empowering them to refer to you. 

In fact, the reason so many companies struggle with employees on social media is because they don’t have a culture built around referrals.

Action steps:

  • Identify your best clients that are both profitable and that you absolutely love working with
  • Further classify those individuals by who has and has not referred you (introductions and closed business)
  • Ask yourself what would happen if you spent more time, intentionally and effectively with them?
  • Start looking and dreaming of ways to have more impact on them in ways you don’t get directly compensated for

If you get anything from this (I certainly hope you do!) I hope that you are more confident about what you can do to improve in the near and distant future. I get to work with other successful professionals like you every day and am blessed beyond measure as a result. You are capable of more AND you are able to enjoy the process of working towards it as well.  

You can have success and a life that is full of joy. You do need to do some work to make that happen and to keep your life aligned (throw out that trash talk of work life balance…complete and utter nonsense).

What makes you most alive?

What really matters to you?

Why aren’t you doing that as much as possible?

Those three questions are 100% relevant to getting predictable referrals. This is because when you are the most alive…you are the most referrable. People want to introduce people that are enjoying their lives, especially financial advisors, to other people. Your BMW or Porsche isn’t going to make them want to refer you, but your passion for life will do nicely. 

Get out there and live. If you are stuck and not sure where to start, reach out and let’s talk.

Related: Why Don’t My Clients Refer To Me More?