The Worst Way to Botch a Referral

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You spend a lot of time, effort and money to generate referrals. When you finally get one, you handle it with great care.

But that’s not always true.

Here’s my experience with two recent referrals: one was handled expertly, and the other demonstrated how careless ineptitude will lose you a prospective client.

Done right

On a recent Sunday evening, I received an e-mail from the CFO of an educational institution. He was considering recommending passive management to the investment committee for the school’s endowment. He asked for a recommendation of an advisory firm.

I sent an inquiry to the managing partner of a large firm, who I knew. Within an hour, he responded (keep in mind this was a Sunday), thanking me profusely for thinking of his firm, and copying the head of its institutional practice, who he said would contact me on Monday.

Within a few minutes of receiving that e-mail, the head of the institutional practice sent me an e-mail. It was also warm and deeply appreciative. He assured me he would follow up immediately and would keep me fully informed.

He has done so. Every time he communicated with me, he tells me how grateful he is for the referral and assures me he will do everything possible to serve the best interest of the institution.

His firm is on a short list and will be interviewed shortly. I hope it prevails. I reached out to the institution to affirm my confidence in this firm.