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How to Properly Thank Someone
Who Gave You a Referral or Lead

When people give you a sales or job lead or help you connect with a not easily accessible person you need to meet for any reason,, they would like to feel that their time and effort is appreciated. These guidelines will help prevent bad feelings.

by Lillian D. Bjorseth

Many people say "thank you" when you send them a referral, a job lead or connect them with someone they want to meet. However, just as many forget to keep you in the loop as the lead matures and, especially, when they get the sale or the job. It's as if they think once was enough.

My friend Joann's experience is a good example.

Several years ago, she passed on a solid, lucrative job lead to her friend who was in transition. She got the perfunctory "thank you." Imagine Joann's surprise when she picked up a business newspaper and saw her friend's picture prominently displayed with a blurb about her new position.

Never another thank-you, handwritten note, flowers ... much less an offer of breakfast or lunch. Nothing, that is, until last month when her friend, who again is in transition, called to ask for help in her job search!

Needless to say, Joann is not as motivated to help this time.

Showing your appreciation: a few basic rules

It's not that people expect you to spend money to say "thank you." What they would like is to be treated courteously and respectfully for the time and effort they expended helping you. Simple, occasional updates help show your appreciation.

These guidelines may help you with your "thank yous."

  • Immediately follow up with a short e-mail/telephone note of thanks when you receive a job or sales lead or any other referral that eliminates another step in the six degrees of separation.

  • After your first interaction or after the first meeting, again send a short e-mail to inform the person who made the referral that you have connected with your target.

  • If the process is prolonged, occasionally inform the person making the referral of your progress. That person, by the way, may be just the right one to intervene on your behalf and get the wheels moving again. And, they might do it on their own, depending on your relationship.

  • Absolutely, unequivocally inform the person who gave you the lead when the sale is made or the job is offered/accepted! It's hard to think of any reason that would you keep you mum at this point.

  • If you landed employment or the sale is substantial, consider sending a small gift such as flowers, a box of (good) golf balls, a restaurant gift certificate etc. It is vital that the gift match the other person's interest ... so you may need to do some research. Suggest breakfast or lunch if you know the person well enough and think she/he would be comfortable with that offer. Generally, don't suggest dinner as that can have a questionable connotation, particularly if the person is of the opposite sex.

  • Optional: If the referral never pans out, you might after several months wish to notify the person giving it that nothing conclusive happened.

I leave you with this example: One of the prevalent themes at an IT seminar I attended is that technology people are usually far better at dealing with data than with people.

One of the panelists recalled how in graduate school he was given an assignment that assumed he had been promoted and had to prioritize his new inbox. He recalled being soundly reprimanded for choosing to put three congratulatory notes at the bottom of the list and not respond to them.

I hope you know better!

Lillian D. Bjorseth helps you build high-value relationships by honing your business networking, business development and communication skills. She’s the author of Breakthrough Networking: Building Relationships That Last, 52 Ways to Break the Ice & Target Your Market, and the Nothing Happens Until We Communicate CD and workbook series. She’s a contributing author to Masters of Networking. Lillian is an Inscape Publishing certified DiSC® trainer and a member of National Speakers Assn. She spent 11 years at AT&T where she trained top executives in communication and media skills. Contact her at lillianspeaks@duoforce.com, http://www.duoforce.com, 800-941-3788 (outside IL) or 630-983-5308.

Some Related Articles:

Etiquette for Meeting People in Business
Get No Respect? Try This Unusual Approach!
What Are Good Manners?
The Dangers of a Sense of Entitlement


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