You asked the biggest profit making question ever. At the time you were probably standing in front of your customer. Or, perhaps you were sitting behind the comfort of your desktop. But man, you popped the question: “Do you know of a friend I could speak with who would also be interested in [insert your service]?” At this point, you’re ahead of the game. Most people don’t even ask the question. But you did. And sometimes, that feels like enough.

Then, the worst happens. The customer responds! In fact, you get three referrals. Three! That means, that you need to contact three new people who know absolutely nothing about you. What do you do?

Step 1- Celebrate. Whenever someone gives you a referral, that’s awesome. That means the customer, adviser, friend, or acquaintance, trusts you enough to put you through with one of their friends. So before you even begin, you’re on solid ground. You’ve been given a quality contact on a silver platter.

Step 2- Contact the referral within the week you received it. Timing is everything. Here’s why. Your customer probably already told his friend that you’re going to reach him (sometimes you know, sometimes you don’t). In this case, your customer is counting on you to fulfill your obligation in reaching his friend. Your customer put his social and in some cases professional reputation on the line in order for you to reach his friend. And you were postponing the contact how long? Another good reason to talk with the referral within the week is because you get lazy. Sometimes you forget. Don’t be a procrastinator. Startups can’t afford that.

Step 3- Thank the customer for the referral. Thanking the customer even before you reach the referral will put the customer at ease and feel good about his contribution. His friend is in your hands.

Step 4- Connect the dots when you contact the referral. A simple introduction including the name of the customer who referred the friend offers A LOT of clarity for the referral. If you’re writing an email, connect the dots in the subject line (“ Referral from Mike Hudson”). This will increase the chances of receiving an email or phonecall back.

Step 5- Update the original customer on your conversation with the referral. Your customers will love you for this. Even if the conversation with the referral leads to nowhere, just the fact that you came back to thank your original customer again means the world. It shows that you care about that customer and his referrals. It means that if you ask for another referral, the customer knows that you’ll follow through quickly and will be happy to present you with more contacts. In other words, you’ll build a stronger relationship with your customer. Trust baby.