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Understanding when to ask for a referral or introduction

Customer Service & Sales

Joshua Davidson wrote this article


Let’s chat about introductions and referrals for a moment.

Listen, I’m a huge advocate of them.

Referrals are one of the biggest things you can leverage as an entrepreneur.

It gives you the ability to instantly expand your network. It grants you access to incredible people and immediately has a common-ground, an emotional layer with that individual.

It’s how we at Chop Dawg have grown our own business. Hell, I even wrote about this very subject for startups on Startup Grind a few weeks back.

This article isn’t about why referrals are not good.

What this article is about is referral and introduction etiquette, and why, I will more than likely say no to you asking for a referral from me.

It doesn’t hurt to ask someone to introduce you to someone else, but understand the other individual’s perspective for a minute.

When they make an introduction to you, they are doing so with someone that they already have a good, if not great relationship with.

The second they give someone a poor referral, that relationship, that friendship, that bond, becomes tarnished.

All future referrals, all future introductions, become less powerful. The value that this individual previously provided the other individual is thrown out the window. You have just become a person of quantity, not quality.

This is why I say more no’s when individuals ask me personally for referrals/introductions.

This is why the people I traditionally refer are friends, people who I have worked with directly, individuals I have relationships with.

I need to know that the people I am referring to others in my network already can deliver on their word and that the particular introduction I am asked to make gives both parties equal and proportionate value.

The second that I end up providing someone with a lackluster referral is the second that my own relationship with that individual, my own clout, my own value proposition, becomes diluted and devalued.

Quantity over quality, not the way to go.

Of course, the opposite end of the spectrum is also true. Those who I have true bonds with, those who I know always deliver, those who I have worked with in the past, my network is their network.

I am about being of value too.

It’s understanding your existing relationships and being selective; but as well, being open when you know the opposite end deserves it too.

So what are the takeaways here?

What should you do if you want an introduction from an individual such as me?


Build a relationship first.

Don’t go right into asking for me to refer you to an investor or potential co-founder without me understanding that you deserve access to my network and/or value proposition first. Stop swinging at the first pitch for a home run and instead, start thinking about how you’re approaching your at-bat.

Relationships are the second most important assets that we as entrepreneurs, executives, investors and creatives have… only second to well, time.

You wouldn’t just give out money to someone when they ask, and the same for your network.

Bring value, build a relationship, then ask to expand. You’ll always be better off and for those who make referrals, always maintain your own personal brand at the highest quality.


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