The Art of Giving a Good Referral

by | Dec 13, 2022 | Insights

Have you ever thought you could help a friend by referring them to a professional you’ve worked with? Perhaps you thought of them during a conversation with your attorney or after a great experience with your car mechanic. What an opportunity to help!

Then you start second guessing yourself. What if they aren’t the right fit? What if they already have someone who does this? Or worse…what if they’re offended?

This is a very common experience. In our world at Alterra, this is usually someone thinking about referring a friend for a financial planning discussion, but it comes up in many situations: inviting someone to your gym, recommending your CPA, or making a connection to a trusted doctor. You genuinely care and think this introduction could help them reach a goal but worry that it won’t go well.

It’s easy when they ask for a recommendation. But what if they haven’t asked? What can you do? We’ve found that anyone can learn the art of giving a good referral with a clear intent and tactful approach.

A clear intent

When giving a referral, it’s important to remember your intent.

I care about my friend and want to help in any way I can. If I find out later that she needed this professional in her life and I didn’t make the recommendation, she might not reach her goal and I could have helped!

People know when you truly care, especially a good friend or other close connection. With a clear intent, you just need the right words.

A tactful approach

While a clear intent is important, it doesn’t give you the words to say. So, here’s an approach we’ve found helpful.

You came to mind recently in a discussion with my financial advisor. She mentioned a situation they helped a client with and it reminded me of you. You might have this all taken care of, but if not, I’m happy to make an introduction.

It can also help to share your personal experience, especially what your first interaction was like. In the worst case, your friend knows you’re thinking of her. But in the best case, she’s been looking for someone like this and you’ve saved her from the grueling process of searching the internet, hoping to find someone she can trust.

Most importantly…you’ll make a difference!

With a clear intent and tactful approach, you can make a good referral, whether that’s a financial advising team like ours here at Alterra or any other trustworthy professional. More importantly, you’re better equipped to help those you care about by introducing them to professionals that can help them increase their own impact and reach their goals more quickly…and don’t be surprised when they thank you for it!

Josh Whelan

Partner, Financial Advisor

About the Author

Josh sees his profession as a calling, not just a career. His motive for pursing financial planning was very personal. While working on a degree in marriage and family counseling, Josh’s father was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Josh decided then and there to change career paths to help his family prepare for an uncertain financial future. Financial planning became his path to serving others.

The “Alterra” name was coined by joining the Latin roots “alter”, the origin of the word “altruism” with “terra” meaning earth or land. This name reflects the company philosophy of “clients before profits” and providing firmly grounded advice.

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