Five Words That Trigger Referrals from Board Members

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It’s Thursday evening and you’re sitting in front of your computer, logged into Zoom, participating in a monthly board meeting. You’ve been on this board for three years. As you look at the people participating in the call, you say to yourself, “These fantastic people are such influencers in our community. Why haven’t I received any referrals from this group in three years?”

I get it. I hear this often from the advisors I coach. There’s an etiquette in this situation that makes asking for a referral a sensitive or even inappropriate behavior. At the same time, part of the reason why you dedicate yourself to this purpose is to gain exposure for you and your firm, build your credibility, meet influencers in the community, make an impact where it matters to you and yes, hopefully land some new business along the way.

Your active participation on a board sends a message to others that you care about the mission of the organization and your community. It helps the other members experience your integrity, professionalism, dedication and authenticity. If you serve on a committee, you might even have an opportunity to allow your business and financial skills to shine as well. This is all being observed by the influencers on the screen in front of you.

But most of it is expected of you as a board member. It played a role in why you were selected or invited to become a member in the first place.

The key to getting referrals from a board is treating those influential people as genuine centers of influence (COIs). One of the most important elements to being referred from COIs is the depth of your relationship with them. The same applies to the people on the board. Seeing the members once a month on a Zoom call (or post-COVID in person) isn’t enough to develop the kind of relationship that supports referrals.