Today, I’m going to meet with my physical therapist, Chase, who is helping me with a couple injuries. I’ve referred his services to at least four other people. The referrals weren’t solicited by Chase- I just found myself in conversations where it made sense to recommend him.

In considering growth through word of mouth, Chase provides an opportunity to analyze how referrals develop.

Early on, I don’t think I would have referred Chase as readily as I have.

A friend who runs a mid-sized agency once told me that it was critical that his account managers formed relationships with clients. Their, and his business’s, positive esteem in the client’s eyes was valuable in developing referrals.

Similarly, as I’ve learned about Chase I’ve grown to like him. He’s a nice guy, who cares about his work, and is relatively early in his career. I want to see him succeed.

My liking him isn’t crucial to me referring him, but it impacts my willingness to share. That likability is an amplifier (or dampener.)

Another important aspect of these referrals is opportunity.

I’m an athletic guy and I spend much of my time doing things with people who are active people too. We’re not in our twenties and we get injuries that won’t heal if unaddressed.

In other words, I’m connected to a network of similar people with similar problems. The opportunity for a referral comes up more often than it would otherwise because of this.

Finally, injuries are something people care about and will complain about. As a PT, Chase has a service that is well suited for conversational sharing.

There’s more to getting referrals than this, but affinity, opportunity, and interest are a good foundation to build word of mouth upon.

If you’re like Chase and run a business with customers who like you, are part of a network of similar people, and use you to solve a need of interest, you should see some level of leads for word of mouth.

Featured image is of the ruined foundations of Nikopolis ad Istrum, a Roman town near Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria that I visited a couple of years ago. Used under public domain.