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BNI members know that word of mouth marketing is the most valuable tool in any business person’s marketing arsenal. A personal referral from a trusted contact can influence a potential client to buy your products or services over any other method of marketing. What makes a referral different from a lead is that, more than just the random passing along of a supplier’s information, a referral is passed on at the time at which your particular product or services are in need, and the quality of what you offer is personally vouched for in the process.  While referral does not necessarily lead to a guaranteed sale, it opens the door for you to do business with someone who is in the market to buy your product.

For this reason, and because good referrals are given in the spirit of reciprocity, of Giver’s Gain, it is very important to develop the habit of following a process to qualify the referrals you pass on to others in your BNI network.  After all – you would like them to do the same for you.

A qualified referral entails following a process with the desired outcome to be that when your recommended supplier, and fellow BNI member, calls your contact, they are expecting the call.

Here are the 6 steps to giving good quality, qualified referrals:

  1. When networking and interacting with people in your business or social spheres always listen out for a need. A good networker has two ears and one mouth, and uses them both proportionally.
  2. Tell the person you’re talking to that you know someone who can provide the service they need.
  3. If you’ve done business with the fellow BNI member under discussion, give a testimonial – tell about your experience.
  1. Give out the business card of the person you are referring and ask for the individual’s card to pass on to your contact. This is sure to impress the person you are talking to and is why your BNI business card caddy is such an important tool in your daily business kit – have it on you at all times!
  1. Ask if it’s okay to have your referee give the person a call.
  1. If the answer is yes, fill out a referral slip and hand it over at your next BNI meeting – or log the referral online at your earliest convenience for instant action.


Here are some examples of 3 degrees of referral – from super hot down to lukewarm

Hot Referral: Someone needs a phone system for their new office. A fellow BNI member gave him your business card and he is expecting your call.

Warm Referral: Someone is new to the area and needs a good chiropractor. A fellow BNI member of gave her contact your business card and she wants you to call her next week.

Tepid Referral:  Someone is shopping for car insurance and is interested in getting quotes.  A member of BNI gave him your business card and let you know you should call him soon.

Here is an example of a non-referral

You see a Facebook post where one of your ‘friends’ needs our fellow BNI member’s services, and so you share and tag them in the post.  This is not a referral because the steps to qualify it have not been followed. You can turn it into a quality referral, by simply following your referral qualifying process, vastly improving the chance of a good outcome.

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