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Posted on Sun, Dec 18, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Asking for referrals: How else can they help?

By Greg Peters

This is part four in a continuing series on asking for referrals. You may want to check out parts one, two and three before you continue, but that's up to you.

In the previous parts we spent some time refining our description of our ideal client. We took a look at our former and current clients to help create an archetype and then did our best to evoke an image in our referral partner's mind in the hopes of locating more clients who we would enjoy working with.

That's all great, but what if we aren't looking for more clients? What if we want something else?

What? Why would we create a strong network if it isn't for building our business?

Believe it or not, our networking connections can support us in more ways than just delivering new clients to our door. Let's look at some of the possibilities.

  • New employees. Whether you are looking for a janitor or a CEO, your network can probably point you in the right direction. It's entirely possible that someone in your network might be looking for the exact position you are trying to fill.
  • New vendors. Do you need a new cleaning service? A new CPA? Or maybe you just need someone to cater your next party. If the service you seek isn't in your network, then it's more than likely that someone among your connections knows someone who does what you need.
  • New opportunities. Are you looking for a chance to speak in front of a group? Would you like to publish a regular column in the local business newspaper? Maybe you just want to be on the radio or television. Check with your referral sources to see if anyone can introduce you.
  • Meeting specific individuals. Maybe you are trying to prospect with a business in the area and you would like a personal introduction to a specific individual within the company. You can always try getting through the layers of gatekeepers between you and your future friend. It might take a while. Or maybe someone in your existing group of friends could make a direct, personal introduction.
  • Job search assistance. Perhaps you are looking for new career opportunities. Since the network you are building is personal, rather than one based upon a former position, even when you are between jobs, you can call upon them to help out.

That's just a short list of the business opportunities you have. Just as with our previous examples where we were looking for clients, the more specific we can be with the description for the above requests, the more likely we are to get what we want or need.

You are looking for speaking engagements? What kind of groups? How large an audience? How far will you travel? How much will you charge (or were you planning on doing this for free)? What topics would you speak on? The more detail, the better.

Next time we'll talk about some possible personal requests you might make.

Greg Peters, founder of The Reluctant Networker LLC, writes, speaks and coaches about good networking practice. For more tips that can help your connections count, go to