Have you ever heard of the emotional bank account? Yes, it’s discussed in the book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. Essentially what Stephen Covey demonstrates is that you must make deposits into your personal and professional relationships before you can start making withdrawals or start writing checks against that account.

In my previous life I had a career in restaurant management. You could imagine what would have happen if my approach was to tell the staff what to do because “I said so”. “I’m the boss and you’re the employee. You do what I say and you will get paid.” It wouldn’t take them long to find a more appreciated employer.

What would happen if I needed to make further withdrawals?
“Hi Sally, I know you have worked long shifts for the past six days. Do you think you can pick up Sunday? We’re short a waitress. Oh yeah, it’s Mother Day!!!”
Good luck!

I was fortunate to work for a company that supported the emotional bank account principle. Some of the deposits that I used with the staff were recognition, greeting them as the showed up to work and as strand as it might sound, feeding them. It wasn’t simply giving them something to eat that was a deposit. It was the way it was done. At the end of a busy evening, when most of the staff was cleaning up, I would go into the kitchen and prepare platters of food for the entire staff. When the food was ready, I would bring it to the dinning room and announce “Snack Time”. Both the dinning room and the kitchen staff would congregate at the table. Some came because they were hungry while others came to socialize. The staff understood that this is one way that I would show my appreciation for their efforts.

On one occasion instead of cooking food I brought in a batch of my ice cream. At that time I had also owned a small ice cream shop and had developed a sensational recipe called “Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mudslide” If you could close your eyes, lick your lips and imagine this. A rich vanilla ice cream base, caramel, high quality chocolate chips, cookie dough, Bailey’s and Kahlua. Note to ice cream maker; alcohol makes it difficult to freeze ice cream. The ice cream was out of this world.

That evening I brought in five gallons of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Mudslide and dished it out to everyone that worked that evening. The reactions were predictable.

The following evening when I arrived at the restaurant the hostess greeted me with, “Did you bring us ice cream?” She wasn’t even there the night before. How did she know? “WORD OF MOUTH”

When I got into my office and retrieved my voice mails I had a message from my boss. He had heard about the ice cream and was complimenting the way I was making deposits with the staff.

What about a Referral Bank Account? Do we need to create a healthy account balance with our referral sources? Of course we do. In a referral relationship we are make large withdrawals. We’re asking a referral source to put their reputation on the line and recommend us.

A common mistake I see is when business people expect referrals before adequate deposits have been made. For example they may join a networking group and feel entitled to referrals simply because they joined and they showed up to a meeting. I’ve heard from sales people who ask every prospect and every client for referrals at every meeting. I know what some of you are thinking. “You won’t get the referral if you don’t ask for it”. That’s true; however you need to ask wisely. Know when you have made enough deposits to make the request. Better still; ask them what you could do to make them feel comfortable referring you.

Some of the obvious ways that we can make deposits are;
• Doing business with them
• Referring them business
• Meet with them to learn how you can help them
• Connect them with someone else that can help them.
• Invite them to networking events that you will be attending

One of the keys to making effective deposits is to find out what’s important to them. Just because you enjoy deep sea fishing doesn’t mean your referral sources will see this as a deposit. The more personalized and the more creative you are, the more you will be remembered.

Referrals, keep them coming!!

It is important that we continue to make deposits even after the referral has been given. After all, don’t we want them to continue to refer us? When a referral source doesn’t feel appreciated that’s a withdrawal. Some easy ways to make deposits at this point is to;
• Thank them for the referral
• Send an appreciation gift
• Keep them informed on how the referral is going

In any referral relationship there are going to be withdrawals. Some you will be aware of and others you will not be aware of. The key to your referral success is to have a system to make the right deposits in the right accounts.

My challenge to you is to open a referral bank account and have a system to make steady deposits. Create your own REFERRAL BANK ACCOUNT for your referral sources that will COMPELS them to refer you!

Author's Bio: 

Mike Macedonio is the President and Partner of the Referral Institute, the world’s leading referral training organization (www.referralinstitute.com). He is also a New York Times best selling author of, Truth or Delusion? Busting Networking’s Biggest Myths (www.truthordelusion.com).