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   ARTICLE   |   From Scotsman Guide Residential Edition   |   December 2007

Be the Straw That Stirs the Drink

Give referrals everywhere you go, and people will thank you

Mortgage brokers frequently hear about creating a referral machine or developing strategic partnerships, but many are probably still wondering how they can actually do this. Others may be confused about where referrals come from or what a referral even means.

A common misconception is that brokers must close a deal, make the client happy and then wait for the client to send referrals. Another is that brokers must develop partnerships by calling on common referral sources, such as real estate agents, attorneys or accountants, where both sides agree to refer business back and forth.

Although these methods can create great referrals, they’re not the only means of developing business. You don’t have to wait around or call and formalize a partnership pact in hopes that referrals come your way — you can go first. Go first, go second and be prepared to keep going.

Going first means sending referrals yourself — and not just to industry partners. Send them to everyone. Your referral sources should not be limited to people in the real estate industry. In fact, they can include people not even remotely connected to real estate. Broaden your range to include every business or social contact you know or meet.

If you keep this up, you will become the source of many buyer and seller matchups. You may soon find yourself as the go-to person for almost any need — which can be an indispensable source of business.

To better understand your role, remember how baseball legend Reggie Jackson described his position on the New York Yankees: “I’m the straw that stirs the drink.”

You must become that straw, that swizzle stick. It is your job to keep it all going by making sure that those around you are doing business. If you do it properly, you will be doing business, too.

The first step to becoming the straw is to listen to those around you. Pay attention to your conversations. Without fail, you will speak with people who say they are planning a weekend getaway, buying a new suit or even getting a haircut. For any situation, you should be familiar with someone who can help them. This gives you an opportunity to act. You can immediately announce, “I know someone you can call.”

To keep track of where to pass on these referrals, you should create a database using on your computer or even index cards in a shoebox. Cross-reference these by type of business. If someone wants to do or buy something for which you do not have a source, tell these people that you will get back to them with a name and number of someone they should call. Then go find someone.

After you make these referrals, follow up with both sides to see that the contacts were made. Help the process along as necessary. The outcome for each referral is only important if both sides know that you made the referral.

When you follow up with both sides, they invariably will thank you. This is your opportunity, your moment of power, to get these persons to want and need to send you business. To squander this opportunity by letting the moment pass ineffectively is to waste everything that you have worked to achieve.

By using certain words in this moment, you can create a subconscious debt and an obligation for the person saying thank you to pay you back. Simply say: “I know you would have done it for me.”

The more people thank you, the more times you can say this. The more times you say this, the more times people will pay you back with referrals. 


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