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July 02, 2005

How To Move Up The Referral Food Chain

This post will smack some as a tad elitist or politically incorrect but, I'm about to explain a referral marketing fact of life.

People can only refer down the food chain (or maybe in the same food group)

What I mean by that is that is, if you are counting a person to refer the VP of sales for a Fortune 500 company, and that person is seen by the VP of Sales as vendor and not as an equal, good luck. Now, understand that in many cases this is simply a function of title, socioeconomic class or even age - but it's also a function of value.

Plenty of high level executives in your network may not be able to refer you to their peers because even their peers don't see them as valued partners. The food chain rewards value.

And the flip side of that! Plenty of seemingly lower level folks provide so much value in the networking relationships they create, doors open for them in mysterious ways.

With all this said, here's what I'm getting at:

  1. If you want to make contact with a higher level (title, income, celebrity status, thought leader, mover-shaker) of prospect you must move out of your current level of network and start breaking in to higher level networks. Quick, how many people in your current network group can and do refer you to executives that are seemingly out of your reach?
  2. If you want to break into a network seen higher than the ones you currently play in provide value. Give before your even ask in return. Prove your worth. Be a coach, consultant or information source that outshines all others and the doors to this higher network will open. And when they do, the referrals you receive will be a little higher on the food chain too.

Posted by John Jantsch on July 2, 2005 | Permalink


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The more circles you move in, the better. And other circles can be a back door to where you want to go. Perhaps the VP you want to reach is in a PTA with a friend of yours, or goes to a business group that your contact is in. Sometimes it is funny how that happens. For me it seems to happen when I don't try so hard at it, and just let things come about in their own time.

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Just ran across this post, and it's a good one. Said very well. Congrats John!

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