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The Tricks to Getting 10 Times More Referrals From Your Network Sometimes it's not just what you know, but who you know that makes all the difference in business.

By Mike Fishbein Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Whether you're looking for clients, potential partners or otherwise, referrals are probably the best way to generate leads and meet high-value people. In addition, if you are introduced to someone through a person you trust and respect, their opinion of you will likely be more favorable than if you say met through a cold call, on Twitter or at some random event. Plus, these introductions can open up the floodgates to many more high-quality leads.

Below are five ways to increase the quantity and quality of referrals you receive from your professional network.

Related: Are You a Benefit to Your Network?

1. Display value.

Introductions should be valuable to all three parties partaking in the introduction: the two recipients and the introducer. The recipients of the introduction get to meet someone who can add value to their business, and the introducer gets to be helpful and build goodwill with his two contacts. In addition, if the two people end up working together and helping each other out, the introducer's professional network has now grown stronger.

To increase the number of high-value introductions you receive, make people feel confident about introducing you to their contacts. If you make them look bad, their reputation could be adversely affected. Conversely, if you make them look good and provide value, you could improve their reputation and therefore be helping them tremendously.

Without sounding too arrogant or overbearing, let people know about your skills and past accomplishments. If people know that you will provide value to their contact and make them look good, they will be more motivated to introduce you.

2. Be helpful.

Find ways to add value to your network without expecting anything in return. When you do something for someone else that helps them in a huge way, people naturally want to reciprocate -- perhaps in the form of a referral. In addition, by helping people in your circle, your network gets stronger – and this can allow for more valuable referrals in the future.

There are many great ways to be helpful and add value to your professional contacts. Make a habit of making relevant and mutually beneficial introductions between people in your network. Share your advice, expertise or feedback along with information such as events, articles or research that they would find useful. Also promote your contacts' work by sharing it on your social channels.

3. Make the ask

. You don't get what you don't ask for. And more often than you think, you will get what you ask for because many people are happy to help. Sometimes people simply need to be asked to make an introduction. (Not everyone can read your mind.) By simply letting people know who you're looking to meet and asking for specific introductions, you can massively increase the number of referrals you get.

Related: Want to Get the Most Out of Conferences? Follow These 7 Tips.

Be as direct as possible when asking for introductions. Ask people you know for contacts in the industry, at particular companies or people within specific departments. Better yet, use LinkedIn to identify individuals you would like to meet. See if you have any shared connections and ask them to introduce you.

When asking for the introduction, simply send an email with a short bio included and explain why the introduction would be mutually beneficial. Also, be conscious of how strong the relationship is between the two parties because -- make it clear that the introducer has no obligation and make sure that introducer has good rapport with the introducee.

4. Meet new people

Cast a wide net so that you're never more than a connection or two away from your dream contacts. Continually put in time and effort to building a strong professional network by attending conferences and events, asking for introductions, reaching out directly when appropriate and getting involved with groups and organizations around your interests. The bigger your professional network, the more opportunities there are to get referrals.

5. Maintain and build relationships.

Stay on your contacts' radar. Continue being helpful by sending relevant information, advice and introductions. Continue to display value by letting people know what you're learning and accomplishing in business. Interact with your contacts on social networks such as Twitter or LinkedIn. Aim to communicate with important contacts at least once per month. Always be in contact before you need referrals, so people don't feel you are only reaching out when you need something.

Related: 9 Apps That Make Certain Nobody Ever Again Loses Your Paper Business Card

Mike Fishbein

Founder and Author

Mike Fishbein is the founder of Startup College and author of How to Build an Awesome Professional Network. Previously he was part of the founding team of a venture studio and corporate innovation firm. 

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