Knowing what Opportunists, Publicists and Activists are and how to create them is key to creating even more referrals from your connections, the people you know.

What are Opportunists, Publicists and Activists


So what makes someone an opportunist for you?

Opportunists create referrals by luck, not design. They just happen to be in the right place at the right time to be able to get you a referral.  

Don’t get me wrong, Opportunists are very, very important. Anyone that gives you a referral, knows you, likes you, trusts you and is helping you grow your business is important but the Opportunist is just waiting for the “opportunity” to refer you. e.g. You’re a plumber and someone mentions to the Opportunist that they are having trouble with a leaky faucet, they will be the first to say “I know someone!” and refer you. It doesn’t matter what plumbing problem, you’re the plumber, you can fix it. 

Unfortunately, the Opportunist also sends you referrals you may not want because they don’t know if you specialize, doesn’t know enough about what you do or can do but is eager to get you a referral when they come across the opportunity.

Problem you might be able to fix = referral for you.

How many times have you received a referral from someone that wasn’t a good fit? That you couldn’t or wouldn’t normally want to do, but you feel obligated to help because this wonderful person sent you the referral.

In my previous life, I used to own a company that provided window film for residential and commercial buildings. Let’s call it window tint.  Whenever I was educating my “team” of referral partners about what I did, I was consistent in my message about buildings. Reducing heat through the glass, lowering utility bills, protecting fabrics and furnishings and in spite of that education there were 2 people that repeatedly tried to send me referrals for vehicles, something I didn’t do. They even prided themselves on getting me multiple referrals for tinting cars and trucks and even one time a tractor. 

Was it their fault? No, it was mine. I told them what I wanted but didn’t tell them what I didn’t want.

Fortunately, I had an automotive connection that helped me out which allowed me to give others referrals. But that’s not the point. My “Opportunist” was consistent in thinking all tint was the same and vehicle tints were easy referrals to find, especially in Texas. 

Why are Opportunists important?  Because they can be educated.  

In the next article I will talk about Opportunists traits, ideals, values and systems for generating referrals and how you can get them to consistently send you the right referrals.


Publicists are the next line in referral givers in the fact they will take lots of opportunities to talk about you and your business, product or service.  They’re like your Mom who’s so proud of you that they have to tell anyone and everyone. 

Publicists create excitement about your business and brand, your products and services and will try to do anything to help you.

They will find you referrals but unfortunately, like Opportunists, it’s a hit-and-miss affair and when they do get referrals it is more often than not, just luck. When you talk to everybody often enough you will eventually find someone that needs your products or services.  They produce more referrals than opportunists because of the constant promoting they do for you.

Now don’t get me wrong, we need Publicists just as we need Opportunists and I would argue that Publicists can do more for you than Opportunists because they do spread the word. It’s like having a raving fan that just can’t stop talking about you. Raving fans are really good.

The issue here is not trying to create referrals, but spreading the right message and to the right people.

A prime example of this is someone saying about your business “Oh yeah, they’re great. They can do anything with pipes and plumbing.” If you’re a plumber, you will probably say you can. But here’s the rub. What if the plumbing problem is the responsibility of the city as it’s in the street not on someone’s private property and your referral was told you can fix it, and you can’t (or shouldn’t). Wouldn’t that suck.

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t want someone raving about how great I am at something I can’t do.

But, alas, the price we have to pay for fame.

Don’t worry, there’s a plan to train your Publicists as well.


Activists are awesome!

There are few people that will be Activists for you and these are the people that should find you most of the referrals you want.  They strategically bring you up in conversation. Listen for phrases, words, pains and problems and know when somebody they meet is a good referral or not. They also know how to create referrals by asking the right questions to find you referrals. 

Activists are sincere and have a skill set that allows them to know when to bring you up in conversation, how to bring you up in a conversation, how to make the introduction/connection and what to say to edify you to the referral.  They are rare and the most sought after of referral sources. 

Activists can be ex-employees that still want to help you (and haven’t gone to work for the competition). They can be members of a referral or networking group you belong to (though not every member will be an Activist).

They understand your business and you, your skill set and the ideal client and it’s not by chance. Someone taught them and we need to figure out how and who they are so we can create more of them.


The problem is that we don’t always know why someone does something for us.

I’m going to cover each of these referral givers in future blogs; how to create them, how to train them and how to identify who would be a good fit for each role and why.

We should all want Opportunists, Publicists and Activists and want them to continue to talk about us with everyone and anyone they meet. It’s going to take training and ultimately, that should be the plan for any business.

Create a team of people that want us to be successful, and will do what they can to help us be successful.

Can you identify the Opportunists, Publicists and Activists for your business?