All of us have at some point been on the receiving end of a referral campaign, and we all know how annoying it can be to feel like you’re being asked to do the work for an organization.
So, when coming up with our own referral programs, design them with this in mind: If you would not want to receive the request, why would your members?
“You have to make it fun,” said Elisa Pratt during a conversation about her member-exclusive Sidecar course, “Who is your member of 2030?”. “You try to get it out of them and in different ways so it doesn’t feel like you’re turning them into recruiters because they don’t want to be recruiters. So you just have to get creative with how you ask them and extract the referrals and the contact information.”
Instead of asking your members to take charge and recruit potential new members for you, just ask them to share the contact information of their coworkers or mentors. For example, rather than asking “Who do you know that would like to be a member?,” you can ask them more indirect questions like these, which were suggested by Pratt:
- Who at your chapter do you work best with?
- Who are you most inspired by in your industry?
- Who is your mentor?
- Who would you nominate for XYZ?
- Who is your favorite XYZ in the industry?
“Referral programs are just that: referral programs,” continued Pratt. “Don’t turn (members) into your recruiters, don’t turn them into your sales people. Just get the names and contact information from them, and then you do the work.”
Your association could even use this opportunity as a chance to learn more about your existing member base and form deeper connections. Asking a series of broader questions like the ones above leaves your existing members at ease and gives you the opportunity to connect with potential new members without making anyone uncomfortable or letting your members feel like they are doing all of the work.
Everyone wants to know the newest and greatest opportunities to better our professional lives, so getting referrals shouldn’t be a difficult task. It relies on the relationship between organization and existing members, and if your members feel you are not appreciating their time and effort, then they will be less likely to cooperate.
But if you take away the extra work and make referrals a simple process for your members, recruiting those contacts should be a piece of cake.
“You just have to get creative with how you ask them,” Pratt said.