Here are my suggestions for asking for referrals:
1. Ask people you’re not in direct competition with. Who else knows the classification of people you're trying to meet?
2. Explain clearly, what you want to speak to their contacts about. Many times people aren't sure why you're asking for the referral, so they are resistant. Be sure to give them a reason they can say yes to.
3. Have an upbeat energy when you’re asking, a mindset of possibility. If you sound like you're apologizing for asking, or have any negativity in your tonality and/or physiology, people pick up on that. They want to help people who are confident and upbeat.
4. Be prepared (have a target list). Straight out of Jerry Maguire - help them to help you.
5. Know your objections before and have an answer prepared. If people have said no in the past, know why and address those objections in the future either directly or change how you're asking for the referral.
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