Rules for CORE Agents #10: People Love Giving Referrals, So Make Them Happy

People just love giving referrals. We love recommending restaurants to our friends.  We love posting our favorite movies on Facebook. We love telling people that we “have a guy” if they need a plumber or an electrician or whatever.  Indeed, hugely successful websites like Yelp and Angie’s List have been built around our natural impulse to share our opinions with other people.  Basically, Yelp and Angie’s List are just big databases of referrals that people selflessly take the time and energy to write for strangers, all for free.

Why is that? Why do we love making referrals so much? Part of it is that we just like sharing our opinions on stuff with other people.  Part of it is that we like to support businesses we like – we’ll write a review on Yelp for a restaurant, or tell people about it, because we want it to succeed.  And part of is that we like validation of seeing other people agree with our opinions.

But the biggest reason people like making referrals is simple: we like being a hero.  If I need a plumber, and you refer me someone great, I owe you one. If I was looking for a great restaurant, and you recommended one to me, I now have a higher opinion of your taste in food.  Basically, if you give me a great referral, you’re my hero.

And you’re not just my hero, but you’re a hero to the person you referred me to.  I have become a very active Yelp reviewer in my hometown, reviewing most of the restaurants that I like.  Recently, when I went to a Chinese restaurant that I love, the owner’s daughter came over to tell me how grateful they were for my review. Even better, they sent me home with a bucket of free ice cream!  Why?  Because I was their hero!

So the lesson is this: you need to stop being so self-conscious about asking people for referrals.  Don’t be afraid to put it out there, because people absolutely love giving referrals.

Here’s the key, though: we only give referrals to people we think are really great at their jobs.  We don’t recommend restaurants that we think are just okay.  We don’t refer friends to plumbers or electricians that do mediocre work.  And we’re not going to refer someone to the real estate agent who never returned our calls, regardless of how many refrigerator magnets she sends us.

People only refer the best.  So be the best.  And if you are the best, then don’t hesitate to give people the opportunity to refer you to their friends, family, and anyone they know.  If you are indeed really good at your job, they’ll refer you.  Not because they want to help you out, but because they want to be a hero.


This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.