There are so many people who are proud of their huge contact lists. They absolutely love having all those links on their LinkedIn account. But what good is a list of names when they’re all people you don’t really know?
A colleague, let’s call him Sam, was lamenting about a disastrous sales call over a cup of coffee this week and I felt pretty bad for him. Sam had been trying to get a contact in a firm he had targeted as a prospect. He put the word out that he was looking for a warm introduction to Alan, the VP of the firm. A small business owner responded saying he knew Alan and gave him a contact number. Sam spent several days preparing all the information, tools, and materials he’d need. He planned out the call he’d make and the different directions the call might take. After about a week, he finally made the call. He found his way past Alan’s gatekeeper by saying he’d been referred by “Ed,” a friend of Alan’s and that his call was expected. Once Alan got on the phone, he told Sam that he had no idea who “Ed” was and was not at all receptive to the call. Sam felt a fool. Then he was angry, because his chance was blown.
Where did it all go wrong?
Sam accepted Ed’s offer of a connection and a number in good faith. Unbeknownst to Sam, Ed didn’t really “know” Alan. Maybe they had met at some seminar, trade show, or networking event. Whatever the case, there wasn’t enough of a connection between them for Alan to even remember Ed’s face or name. There is a pretty big difference between a referral and a proffered contact number and here’s what it is:
When someone offers a referral, it is implied that the person has or will contact the person being referred and let them know that their name has been given as a referral and someone will be in touch with them soon.
Think of it like this. If Ed was actually providing a referral, he would have contacted Alan himself and let him know that Sam would be in touch in the near future. A good referral would have given some information about Sam and his business as well. This is what we call a warm introduction. This is the act of connecting two people who are both known by the middle man – the connector. If that doesn’t take place, what is being provided is essentially just a cold call. Just a name and a number, that’s it.
How valuable are your contacts?
I am extremely proud of my contact list. In fact, I call it the Grow Your Business Coaching ‘million-dollar rolodex’ even though no one has a rolodex anymore. I know that I can call anyone in my contact list and within moments, we’re reconnected and remember each other. I can even tell you what their business is, where it is, and what they do. I give everything my all to my coaching, training and mastermind group clients which includes the benefit of years of rich relationships I have accumulated into that ‘rolodex.’ We all achieve great things when we work together and that’s why my list is so valuable.
Having a huge list of contacts that you don’t even know is pretty useless. As shown above, a list of names and numbers won’t get you anywhere. It’s similar to having your own phone book – it’s a reference, possibly, but not really an effective tool. And definitely not something you can confidently offer to others. It’s a shallow, wide pool. Instead, you should keep your contact list full of rich relationships. Refer those people you know and respect and you will keep your pool deep and rich. Remember that your referrals reflect back on you – good, bad and otherwise.