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Everyone wants leads. An essential part of our prospecting process, leads are always welcome. The downside can depend on the quality and timing of a lead. The conversion often requires a longer incubation process and continued nurturing before converting to a sale.

But what if you could jump-start a solid referral strategy if you focused primarily on the core group of people who already know, like and trust you? Our observations prove a significant conversion rate of referrals from this group than from lead-source platforms across the board.

The Challenge
Many of us are comfortable with reaching out to our top VIPs or our sphere of influence and can pick up the phone, plan a pop-by or send a meaningful, small gift. For others, the challenge is what to do and what to say, while others are challenged with needing a structure and plan to connect on a consistent basis.

The Solution
The simplest solutions do not require whiz-bang tech platforms or automated systems to do the deed. They are helpful in the scheduling process, but the end game is simply to connect with those top influencers and VIPs in your group on a regular basis in a way that is non-soliciting in a spirit of transparency to connect through genuine relationships.

The Process
Sit down with a calendar and identify one date per month to connect in a fun way. Email and text messages don’t count here; go for real connection. It can be a phone call, a pop-by, a planned coffee or a meaningful item of some value.

If you prefer more of a social gathering, plan an event as small as 10-15 people a couple of times per month, which will allow you to rotate through your list. Plan a wine and cheese get-together, a gathering at the local ice cream store, or even a Saturday morning meetup for coffee and continental breakfast. It doesn’t matter what or where, but that you “see” the people to build and nurture the relationships. This practice guarantees reach-out and face-to-face contact during the entire year.

Annual events are always successful, as well, especially if they include a purpose and a benefit to the local community. A shredding event in the spring, picnics in the park during the summer and year-end events that support a local charity create healthy and strong connections.

What to Say and How to Say It
The missing element is often what to say. Electronic invitations are fast and easy, but when you add a hard-copy invite, followed up with a phone call and reminder text, you’ll have more success with attendance.

Think Conversation*
Have a simple script prepared: “Hi, this is (you) and I’m calling to be sure you got our invitation to our annual (movie theater family night/ice cream meetup, etc.). It’s our way to let you know how grateful we are to have worked/be working together. Let me confirm and update your contact information.”

The Wrap
It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3:

  1. Set the date.
  2. Follow up 3-4 times for their RSVP.
  3. Enjoy the event.

Tip: Take lots of pictures. Always follow up with a “Sorry we missed you” or “Thank you for coming” note for consistent personal referrals.

*For a free copy of our 2020 business plan, visit

Terri Murphy is a communication engagement specialist, author, speaker, consultant and master coach with Workman Success. She is the author of five books, a TED Talk speaker and co-radio host on For more information, visit or email