Do you know that old tradition of meeting with bankers and other "referral" sources? Or maybe you have participated in many of the "happy hours" designed to get people talking and referring business. The question, though, is how much business did you really get from the event?
Many firms participate in referral activities, however, the results are often sketchy. Ask yourselves about the last one you attended. How many referrals did it actually yield? Often, people will say that it increased the potential for referrals in the future. But did it?
To ensure your next referral event is a success, consider a targeted format. Think about how much powerful it would be to take 15 to 20 minutes to talk about what type of clients you really want to be referred to. By doing a presentation where one message goes to all attendees, you don't rely on 15 different people to tell 15 other people the same thing. Your referral partner can do the same. Afterall, the only thing that keeps referrals alive is reciprocal action. You must find out how you can reciprocate to keep your referral sources from drying up.
Of course, a more targeted style doesn't mean that the meeting needs to be boring. You can still have drinks before and after with casual conversation. The difference will be that before the presentation, you may have been learning about the person's wife, kids, dog, etc. and after the presentation, the talk will naturally drift to "who can I refer to you?" And, that's exactly where you want to be.