You may not always have a steady stream of referrals to give out to your referral sources, and here’s what to do when you feel stressed out about that.

Here’s a great article by Sue-Ella Prodovonich on referrals and how to pay them back when you can’t refer them work at that time.

As she says, “referrals are the lifeblood of most professional services firms.” Think about idea of mutual reciprocity and being helpful. Invest in your relationships in a way that provides something of value to them and you will strengthen the relationship until you can make an introduction that may lead to a referral. Remember that referrals are never guaranteed – but you can certainly make connections and go out of your way to help people. No one forgets when someone goes above and beyond for them. Read on for Sue-Ella’s tips. 

  • Invite them to something – Sue-Ella says the easiest way to repay a referral is simply to invite the referrer along to something that they will find interesting or fun. As she says, “Inviting someone to a snoozefest is a torture, not a favor.”
  • Introduce them to someone: She suggests inviting other people along too, noting, “people they actually would like to meet, who may be helpful to them in some way and who you think they’d get along with. This doesn’t have to be a potential client. It could be anyone in your book of contacts who you think they’d hit it off with and who could enrich their life in some small way.”
  • Give away something to make them look good: Sue-Ella says to think about ways in which you can offer a referral something of value, such as free advice at first, that will help to cement the relationship to them.
  • Share information: Information sharing is a great way to build relationships. She recommends sharing their LinkedIn posts and passing their articles onto people who you know would find them of interest.
  • Shine the spotlight on them: This is my favorite tip of Sue-Ella’s and one that I try to incorporate in my daily life. She talks about the “shout out” – the idea of spreading the word about the achievements of important people in your professional network. She says, “Whenever you promote a project you’ve worked on – whether that’s through your internal channels or external ones – do what you can to let people know how and why you got the work in the first place. Give them a shout out and let them know how valuable your relationship with them is.”
  • Don’t wait for the tap. Never sit around and wait for the referrer to come to you to ask what’s going on. She says, “Referral relationships are all about being proactive and, if you have no work to give in return, being proactive becomes more important than ever.”

Read the full article for more tips.