How To Supercharge Your Referral Relationships

I recently realized that my business is generating over $300,000 in annual recurring revenue from one unique source of clients.

Every dollar of that $300,000 is generated from individuals who had no interest in my services when we first met.

These people did not magically appear in my office ready to do business with me. I wasted a lot of time and energy meeting new people until I created a structure for making this process easy and predictable.

But before I get to that, let me tell you where I was several years ago…


I’ve always been of the opinion that one of the best ways to add value to my network, while positioning myself to get more introductions to ideal clients, is by developing and deepening relationships with referral partners and centers of influence (COIs). (Centers of Influence are individuals who can boost your market access and credibility through referrals, testimonials, and word-of-mouth.)

Earlier in my career, I typically met COIs by way of introductions from clients or from networking. When I met a seemingly worthwhile connection, the typical  follow up was: “Let’s grab lunch or coffee to learn more about each other.”

These meetings are a great way to develop and maintain relationships with centers of influence (COIs) and referral partners, but you have to take a long-term approach and put in the time. When you are in the early stages of growing your business, you should be developing relationships with as many CIOs as possible. However, an hour and a half is a big time commitment when you have a full plate.

I had arrived at a point where I was spending the majority of my time servicing existing clients and working on my business. I had significantly less time to keep up with my existing network in a meaningful way, let alone the time to develop new relationships. As my roster of clients expanded, I needed to find a more efficient way to meet new people.

At that time, one of my clients had suggested I meet Bob, their estate planning attorney. He apparently did great work, and so I agreed that an introduction would make sense.

Bob emailed me proposing we grab lunch at some point to learn more about each other. This seemed like a good idea, but there was a problem. I could barely get together with my existing COIs as often as I would like, let alone make the time to develop new relationships.

Then something very cool happened…

Almost immediately after hearing from Bob, I received a serendipitous email from Mark. Mark was an accountant I had known for years and it had been awhile since we connected in person. Mark wanted to know if I had time in the coming weeks to schedule our long-overdue lunch.

Then I started thinking…


I thought, I should see if Bob wants to join Mark and me for lunch. Combining these lunches into one would allow me to deepen my relationship with two professionals in the same amount of time I was planning to spend with just one. Plus, it could be beneficial for them to meet each other.

I asked Mark what he thought, and he agreed it was a great idea.

The day of the lunch arrived. To my delight, the two of them hit it off right away, and Bob had an immediate opportunity for Mark. We all walked away having drawn value from the meeting.

After we parted ways, they both reached out and told me how incredibly grateful they were that I organized the lunch, and asked how they could help me.

Given how beneficial it was to host a lunch that brought together two people in my network, I started envisioning the potential power of a larger lunch.

I emailed each of them and suggested we do it again next month, but that we should each invite 2-3 other professionals to join us. We invited a mix of existing clients, COIs, and a few prospects.

The end result was nothing short of spectacular. In my next email, I’m going to share exactly what I did and how powerful these lunches can be for your business.

In the meantime, if you routinely grab lunch with COIs to explore synergies and deepen your relationships, you should consider inviting a third wheel to join you next time – especially if you think the two of them will connect in a meaningful way.

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