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WOW! The response to our request for readers to give us their definition of a referral has been tremendous.

Please keep them coming using the form below. We have removed the requirement to leave your email so we can assure you this is not some sort of list building scheme.

I want to show some of the responses here so you can get an idea of how diverse the answers are:

  • “To me a referral could be any number of things. First, a referral does not always need to be for monetary gain. A referral could be an introduction that could help an individual grow in some way. Direct referrals that are meant to end in a sale need to be well thought out and qualified. To do this we all need to educate ourselves about the individuals and businesses that we associate with. We need to be ready when the opportunity presents itself. “Qualified” is the key word though, there is nothing worse than receiving a “referral that was passed just for the sake of saying “Hey I passed your info along to so and so.” Instead take the time to make the introduction between the 2 parties and create the dialogue for a successful experience between both.”
  • “An introduction, possibly the first step in establishing a relationship.”
  • “A referral is a viable business lead that does not culminate in a demand for pro bono work. To me, a solid referral is a well vetted potential customer that understands the value of paying for a quality product. I cannot tell you how many referrals I’ve been given which resulted in the expectation of work for the low, low price of free. I cannot feed my family on free.”
  • “According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a referral is an act of sending someone or something to a person or place where what is wanted or needed can be obtained. It also means the act of directing someone to a different place or person for information, help, or action, often to a person or group with more knowledge or power.”
  • “A referral is somebody recommending something to somebody else.”
  • “To me a referral is when someone tells someone else you did great work for them and they should hire you. I guess a great referral is really a recommendation.”
  • “A customer referral is a confirmation that a business is serving their community well and providing goods/services of high quality to its customers. When satisfied customers recommend a business they do so with peace of mind and confidence that the recipient is going to receive the same quality of work.”
  • “Hey Michael, you probably won’t find this in a dictionary but a referral is a RELATIONSHIP where someone TRUSTS you/your brand enough (either by reputation or personal experience/interaction) that they are willing to RISK their REPUTATION to RECOMMEND you or your business.”
Thank you to all who have already responded, and I look forward to seeing responses from the rest of you soon.

What I’ve learned about referrals so far.

As you can imagine there is a lot of research that goes into something like this. I have found, after more hours than I’d like to admit, that there are a lot of interesting articles out there on how to build a proper referral strategy for your business.

What I have not found is a clear definition for the term referral.

I really thought this is important to what we are trying to accomplish here. If we truly want to harness the power of referrals to grow our businesses, we should understand what a referral is.

I am not so sure now.

I have found that there are differing types of referrals and differing ‘levels’ of referral. Maybe, understanding the nuances of each may be a better strategy.

I will keep digging. In the meantime, please fill out the form below and let me know what you think a referral is.

What is your definition of a referral?

In our effort to understand and harness referrals, it becomes important to know what a referral is.

Please give us your definition of a referral - I'll bet we get a plethora of different answers...