After receiving a referral, don’t overlook the importance of following up with the referring party. Always keep that person in the loop. That way, he or she can help if the third party isn’t immediately responsive. The referrer also will be motivated to provide you with more contacts and support. After all, the referring party will score some points with their sources, too.
Who knows? The person who gave you one referral could wind up giving you countless referrals — turning into what I like to call a “personal evangelist.” An evangelist, of course, is someone who promotes something enthusiastically. There already exist religious evangelists, technology evangelists and brand evangelists. Now I’m suggesting you create your own personal evangelists: people who sing your praises and attempt to convert others to, well, you.
How do you create personal evangelists? Here are five suggestions:
1. Be a rebel with a cause.
In a research paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Caleb Warren and Margaret C. Campbell define cool as: “… a subjective, positive trait perceived in people, brands, products and trends that are autonomous in an appropriate way.” The researchers cited a 1984 Apple advertisement as a prime example. In essence it communicated the fact that “You have a choice” and then implored “Don’t buy IBM.” The ad didn’t’ say, “Burn IBM’s headquarters to the ground.” So be “out there,” but with boundaries.
2. Don’t try to appeal to everyone.
If you want true staying power, you can’t appeal to everyone. Yep — you read that right. The rock band KISS, an ongoing entity for almost 45 years, with some 80 million albums sold, was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2014. One of the main reasons the band made it this far is because it created a rabid group of evangelists known as the KISS Army, which packs tremendous staying power. These people are devoted fans. Lead vocalist Paul Stanley said it best: “Either love us or hate us. If you’re in the middle, get out.”
3. Take care of those who support you.
Lessons also can be learned from another rock band, albeit one with a much different musical style than KISS. The Grateful Dead’s evangelists, known collectively as “Deadheads,” demonstrated the power of the people in almost everything they did. For example, while The Grateful Dead bucked convention in many ways, it’s still shocking to think that the band allowed Deadheads to record their shows for free and actively encouraged bootlegging of their music for decades. Why? Because it endeared the band to the fans. Reciprocity, anyone?
4. Be elegant.
Steve Jobs was so fanatical about design that he added costs and increased development time by railing about the importance of the aesthetic design of the circuitry found inside Apple products. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are often referred to as rolling sculptures, with each component shining like a perfectly cut jewel. Have everything you do be just as elegant. Dress sharp and keep a clean office or desk — both of which can do big things for your persuasion powers. Now apply that approach to emails you send, documents you create and PowerPoint presentations you deliver. Make sure your stuff not only is good, but that it looks good, too.
5. Be like Billy
Speaking of evangelization, why not be like an actual evangelist? I asked one person whose opinion I respect who he thought was the greatest speaker he’d ever heard? His reply: “Billy Graham — and I’m agnostic!” Speaking is one of the most effective ways to create personal evangelists. Know your topic, engage your crowd and deliver your message with enthusiasm. Whether you should mimic Billy Graham’s style or content is up for debate, but exceptional speaking skills can create a tent-revival atmosphere around you and your persuasion priorities.
Now get out there and begin gathering your own personal evangelists!