Recently I had the pleasure of attending one of Bob Burg’s live seminars in Seattle. If you want to polish your referral skills, Bob Burg’s books – especially Endless Referrals – are a must read. I really enjoyed having these referral marketing tips brought to live with great stories and practical advice.

Here are my top 5 takeaways from Bob’s presentation:

1. Posture = Mindset

There are a number of factors you can control related to how you do business. In general, people don’t like to do business with people who need them too much. This is commonly referred to as a “commission breath” and prospects can “smell” it.

Instead, referral marketing focuses on cultivating relationships where people know, like and trust you. Be a person of value for your contacts. Communicate trustworthiness by providing valuable information and connections for your prospects and clients to turn them into personal walking ambassadors a.k.a. raving fans. You have the power to create your own mindset and have great posture.

2. When You’re Telling you Ain’t Selling

In order to make other people feel great, let them do the talking. The old 80/20 rule applies here again. As a sales professional, listen 80% and only talk 20%. Whether it’s on the phone or at a networking event, no one will hang up emotionally if they are doing the talking.

3. Ask Feel-Good Questions

Bob Burg has a great set of rapport building questions that all of us should have printed out, practice and have in our briefcase. Anything from asking a prospect how they got started in their business, to what they enjoy most about what they do to asking them how I can know that someone I’m talking to would be a good referral to them. Here is the link for Bob Burg’s complete list of 10 rapport building questions. The memory hook for these questions is : FORM – these questions revolve around F = Family, O = Occupation, R = Recreation and M = Message (hobbies, passions).

4. The Power of Handwritten Notes

Did you know that blue ink is more effective than black ink? Bob Burg highly recommends a heavy stock notecard format that fits into a standard A10 envelope. These notecards include your picture and contact information on the right and a small benefit statement along the bottom.

Here is an entrepreneurial printer who provides online ordering for Bob’s recommended notecards. These cards should be sent within 24 hours of meeting a new contact or monthly or semi-monthly to “A” list prospects and clients including an item of value such as a booklet or a paperclipped article. Bob Burg is also a big fan of SendOutCards as an occasional alternative to stay in touch with contacts – as long as they are printed using blue ink. However, there is no substitute for a real handwritten note.

5. The Power of the Referral Bridge

In order to transition a contact, prospect or client into the mindset of providing referrals for you, Bob Burg crafted an excellent Referral Bridge phrase. This is a statement to be memorized and practiced so it flows easily in conversation. The Referral Bridge goes like this:

“Joe, I’m in the process of expanding my referral business and I find it helpful to partner with friends (clients) such as you. Can we take a few quick minutes and run past a few names of people that I might (or might not) be able to help?”

Once the conversation has been bridged into referral mode, be specific about a group of people that your client or contact may have mentioned in earlier conversations. This could involve the other 3 people in their golf foursome, board members on a board they serve on or the people they usually sit with at a Rotary meeting. Ask your contact to visualize those specific people and which of them you should talk to or might be able to help. Remember, the first name is the toughest!

For a complete list of Bob Burg’s books and CD, check out Bob Burg on Amazon and follow him on Twitter@bobburg. If you have used Bob Burg’s or other referral tools in the past, please comment and share what works best for you.