Fuelling the Flame: Strategies for Keeping the Fire Burning with Your Referral Sources

By Ron Gibson | Go Networking

Just as a fire needs attention and care to keep it burning bright, referral source relationships require consistent effort and nurturing to thrive. I’m going with the campfire metaphor here because it’s relatable. It’s easy to understand.

Like a campfire, you’ve got to keep adding fuel to the relationship if it’s going to grow. You can’t expect to start the fire and have it burn endlessly if you don’t add more wood, right?

With referral relationships, you’ve got to keep adding fuel.

To start, you need to put a log on the fire. This represents the initial effort to engage someone new at a networking event or to reach out to them later for a meeting to continue the conversation. It’s the foundation of the relationship, the first step in building rapport and creating a meaningful connection. Just like a log fuels the fire, this initial effort ignites the relationship, setting the stage for future interactions.

Once the fire is lit, you need to tend to it. This involves regularly stoking the fire by adding more logs, representing consistent communication and engagement. Just like a fire requires regular attention to keep it burning, referral relationships need ongoing effort, such as following up, keeping in regular touch, and showing genuine interest in the other person.


It’s not just about adding logs. It’s also about maintaining the right balance. Too many logs at once can smother the fire, while neglecting to add logs can let the fire die out. Similarly, in business relationships, finding the right balance between reaching out and giving space is crucial. It’s important to show genuine interest without being pushy or overwhelming the other person.

Lastly, just as a fire needs to be tended to after it’s burning brightly, maintaining referral source relationships requires continuous (consistent) effort. This can include regular check-ins, expressing appreciation and gratitude 2 for referrals received, and going the extra mile to bring value to the relationship.

To sum up, building and maintaining fruitful referral source relationships is like tending to a campfire. It requires making an initial effort to establish a connection, regularly stoking the fire with consistent communication, finding the right balance, and continually tending to the relationship to keep it burning over time.

It goes without saying that you’re referrable, meaning you’re easy to like, you do great work, you’re easy to deal with, and your referral partners understand your full suite of services.

Here’s what you should do to put a log on the fire:

1. Take your referral sources to lunch and keep a 90-day cycle going indefinitely.

You’ve got to invest some time getting to know your referral partners and building the relationship. I’ve written about this extensively in my article, “How to Turn Breakfast, Lunch and Drinks into Business”.

2. Be social with your referral sources.
Meet them for coffee. Meet them for drinks. Make friends. Building the personal relationship encourages referrals.

3. Send small gifts (something special that you know they’ll like) such as a book, or a personalised gift or gift voucher as a gesture of gratitude for their referrals and support.

4. Send periodic updates on your business, milestones, new offerings, or industry news to your referral sources, keeping them informed and engaged.

5. Send them an email each month: not the firm’s newsletter, but a personal email about pretty much anything. Find an article to send or ask them about something they said on LinkedIn. Stay top of mind by keeping in touch.

6. Remember their birthday.

7. Offer them tickets to an event.

8. Take them out to dinner once a year; include spouses or partners.

9. Offer to provide educational or informative presentations to your referral source’s organisations or networks, showcasing your expertise and providing value to them and their contacts.

10. Set up periodic check-in calls or meetings with your referral sources to catch up, share updates, and discuss potential collaboration opportunities.

11. Invite them to a networking event, industry conference, or other professional gathering and use the opportunity to reconnect and deepen the relationship.

12. Host a small networking event or gathering, such as a coffee meetup, happy hour, or lunch specifically for your referral sources to foster face-to-face interactions and strengthen relationships.

13. Send a newsletter (if you produce one) accompanied by a personal note.

14. Reach out to them to check on their needs, challenges, or progress and offer assistance or support. This demonstrates genuine care and interest in their success and helps to keep the relationship going.

15. Offer referrals or recommendations to your referral sources, such as referring a potential client/customer to their services, sharing relevant contacts, or endorsing their skills or products on social media. This shows generosity and fosters goodwill and reciprocity.

16. Collaborate on a joint project or initiative, such as co-hosting a seminar, coauthoring an article, or participating in a shared event of some kind. This allows for shared success and helps to strengthen the bond between parties by creating a sense of shared purpose and accomplishment.

17. Provide valuable resources, insights, or expertise to your referral partners without expecting anything in return, such as sharing industry news, providing advice, or offering relevant information or research. This positions you as a helpful resource and establishes trust, which is crucial for building and maintaining long-lasting productive referral relationships.


Are your referral sources worth any less than the efforts outlined above? 


The fire will die without attention. Like putting logs on the campfire to keep it burning, you’ve got to invest time and energy to keep the relationship going.


Add a little wood to the fire and your revenues will keep you warm and cosy year in, year out. 

Should you require further information please contact via ron@gonetworking.com.au

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