By By Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chairman at BNI

Specific is terrific when you are engaged in referral marketing and you’re teaching others how to refer you. Don't believe me? Take out a piece of paper and try the following two experiments before you read this entire article:

1. Think of five silly things that people have done in the world. Now, think of five silly things your children have done.

2. Write down as many things that are white in color that you can think of. Now, write down as many things that you can think of that are white in color that you might find in your refrigerator.

If you are like most people, it was a lot easier to do the second half of each experiment. Do you know why? Because you were asked to be even more specific each time. You had less trouble actually envisioning the things you were asked to think of.

This principle transfers powerfully into your referral marketing efforts. When you are actively developing a partnership with another business person for the purpose of cultivating referrals for each other, it is so important to get as specific as you can about the kind of referrals you both want.

Have you ever tried to hit a target when you did not know what it looked like or even where it was? Pretty tough to do, I'd imagine! Many times we hear people say things to their referral partners like, "I want to be referred to anyone who needs my service." Okay, well, that is so generic that it doesn't stick in my brain! It's like that target I can't find.

But when you say, "I want to be referred to Dr. Louis Brown, School Superintendent, of the local school district" that is going to stay with me as I go out and about in the world. The moment I have any contact with a person who may mention Dr. Brown, I'm going to remember your specific referral request and make that connection for you. Perhaps even as soon as you make your specific request, your referral partner will be able to make a connection for you right on the spot.

I have seen that very thing happen during a workshop I conduct from time to time on networking resonance. As I was teaching the group how to be specific in their referral requests, I gave them a chance to practice this concept. One of the participants, Sally, stood up and said, "I would like to be connected to Marty Rodriguez, the top-selling real estate agent for Century 21."

Immediately one of the other participants, Janet, who has been networking Sally for many months, stood up and said, "Sally! Marty Rodriguez is my COUSIN!" What do you think Sally's reply was? "Why didn't you ever tell me that?" And what do you think Janet said? You might guess: "You never asked."

Right, she never asked. As a matter of fact, it had never crossed her mind to ask that specifically for the referral she really wanted the most.

There are other ways in which specific is terrific can pump up your referral marketing results. One of the best is to be clear about how you can help those who are referred to you.

I saw this illustrated by a chiropractor once who came to his networking group every week and focused on one aspect of how he helps his patients at each meeting. For example, one week he spent his personal spotlight time talking about the importance of having the first cervical vertebrae in proper alignment and what a person would notice in their body if it were not in alignment. We all went away very aware of who in our lives had headaches or allergies so we could refer those friends to him.

The next week he talked about how regular chiropractic can help build a strong immune system. We went away read to refer those around us who had colds or the flu to him. He was very specific in his descriptions of what he did and how he could help others. It made it very easy to find referrals for him.

With that in mind, here are three tips to help you incorporate specific is terrific into your referral marketing efforts:

1. When possible, ask to be referred to a specific person BY NAME. If you want to be connected to a certain company, find out the name of a person there you can begin your networking with and ask to be introduced specifically to that person.

2. When explaining what you do to a referral partner, share one or two examples only. Avoid the temptation to offer a laundry list of your services. Your referral partners will not be able to remember everything on your list anyway.

3. Share an example of a client for whom you have solved a problem when you are asking for a referral. This will increase your chances of being remembered by your referral partner when he or she comes across a friend or colleague with a similar situation.

We are all busy people leading busy lives. By remembering that specific is terrific, you will maximize your potential to be referred and that can make all the difference when you are building your business through referral marketing.

Give it a try. I promise you that it will work!

Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His newest book, Networking Like a Pro can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com).