Genuine Connection


Your First Step Toward Endless Referrals

By Bob Burg, coauthor of The Go-Giver author of Endless Referrals, and creator of the online video course: Endless Referrals: The Go-Giver Way

(1008 words)

The single biggest challenge for most anyone in business is running out of new people with whom they can share their products and/or services.

And let’s face it: once there are no more qualified prospects to speak with you are effectively out of business.

Fortunately, this no longer needs to be an issue for you. Yes, you can in fact build, develop, and cultivate a network of endless referral business.

This leads to significantly more sales, which leads to even more referrals, leading to even more sales and…and…a delightful cycle of success!

Important to Understand This First

Sales and referrals is first and foremost about genuine connection. Once the connection is made, trust is the natural result. And this trust is what creates the "benevolent context" for the sales and referrals to occur and continue.

While this connection might take place during your sales presentation, it typically begins well before then – during the first time you actually meet, whether via telephone, on Zoom, or in person. This connection is accelerated by a powerful conversation, one in which they feel valued and important right from the start.

And the responsibility for ensuring that happens is yours.

So, want to be a great conversationalist? Then let the other person talk, while you genuinely listen.

Remember: Nobody ever hangs up the phone on you...while THEY are talking. 🙂

Same on Zoom.

Same in person.

So let them talk...about themselves, and THEIR interests.

And, of course, their interests…IS themselves. 🙂

For example, let’s pretend that you meet someone at a local business-social event. 

You introduce yourself and exchange names.

You ask what she does and he tells you, asking you the same.

Note: Please do NOT at this point provide a clever elevator speech or anything else about how your product or service does “this or that.” Why? Because at this point, that person absolutely does not care…about you or your product/service. He cares about himself, and his product/service.

Distinguish Yourself From All Others Right Here!

Once you answer, now gently turn the focus back on him, preparing to let him talk about himself 99 percent of the time while you genuinely listen.

To do this you’ll need to ask questions. But not just any questions. I suggest asking what I call, “Feel-Good Questions.”

Feel-Good Questions are not salesly, they’re not prospecty, they’re not intrusive, they’re not invasive. They’re simply questions that make this person FEEL GOOD (feel GREAT!); about themselves, about the conversation. And about you!

They very quickly build a rapport with that person and attract them to you; they immediately see you as a person of value; someone they want to have as part of their sphere of influence.

My Golden Rule of Sales is that “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like, and trust.”

These questions are the first step toward accomplishing those all-important feelings toward you from that person.

You'll find a remarkable difference in their response as opposed to others they meet who mostly talk about themselves and their business.

Feel-Good Question #1: “How did you get started in the {person’s specific} business?”

No, it’s not a particularly clever or slick question – and there’s no need for it to be – it’s actually very mundane. But it’s a question people LOVE to answer. Why? Because you’re asking them to share their story. This is not something they’re typically asked to do, and they appreciate it!

Feel-Good Question #2: "What do you enjoy most about what you do?"

This is a question that elicits that person feeling great! And remember, when they feel great about themselves they, by extension, feel great about you.

Now that a good rapport has been established it’s time to ask the question that will set you apart from practically everyone else they’ve ever met.

I call it…

The “One Key Question”: “{Name}, How can I know if someone I’m speaking with is a good customer for you?” {Or prospect, client, or connection, depending upon their line of work.}

What have you accomplished by asking that question?

Two things. First, you've continued to establish yourself as being different from anyone they've ever met; those who only seem to want to sell them their product or service.

But not you. Instead, you’re communicating that your interest is in helping them. And that is always acceptable, and very welcome.

Secondly, the way you’ve framed the question will help them to answer in a way that will actually help you to help them. For example, say you’re speaking with Mary who sells copying machines to businesses. You ask her, “Mary, how can I know if someone I’m speaking with is a good client for you?”

She thinks about it for a moment – she’s never been asked this before – and finally says, “well, if you’re ever in an office and notice a copying machine, and next to that copying machine is a wastepaper basket that’s filled to the rim and overflowing with crumpled up pieces of paper, that’s a good sign that copying machine has been breaking down a lot lately, and that would be an excellent prospect for me.”

So Mary has just told you – explained to you – how to look out for her best interests; how to bring value to her life; how to make her life more productive and profitable. And she appreciates the fact that you asked.

(Note: If Mary is not in sales – thus asking about prospects or customers would hold no value to her – you’d use the same principle involved in the question but slightly adjust the end to “connection” or “someone you’d like to meet.” Thus, “Mary, how can I know if someone I’m speaking with would be a good connection for you?”)

Fantastic conversation!

This conversation, of course, is only the beginning of the relationship-building process. But it’s a powerful beginning, creating the earlier-mentioned “benevolent context for success” whether for your ensuing immediate sales presentation or for your effective follow up and follow through.


Bob Burg, CPAE is a Hall-of-Fame Speaker and author of the international bestselling business parable, The Go-Giver, which has sold well over one million books and been translated into 30 language. You can learn more about Bob, his speaking, and his books, by visiting Subscribe to his popular “Daily Impact” email at


I have 10 Feel-Good Questions in my arsenal but you’ll never have time to ask all ten in any one conversation. And, even if you do have time to ask all ten…please don’t. As powerful as these questions are, if you ask any more than two or three at a time you will come across like an investigative reporter and you don’t want to do that. If you’d like all ten Feel-Good Questions, however, so that you can learn them and have them at your ready, then visit and you can print them out.

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