A commenter on the recent Chum Bucket results tally asks:
When you say "referral", does that mean you actually contact another agent and tell them about the query you received?
No, not usually. When I see a query for a project that intrigues me and it's for a category I don't take on (middle grade, YA, romance etc) I sometimes say "Query Brooks Sherman here at FPLM; Query one of those hotshots over at BookEnds LLC; Query the Amazing and Talented Suzie Townsend at New Leaf."
I don't call any of them up (or email, semaphore or smoke signal) to say I've sent a querier. What you do instead is write in the very first line of your query "Janet Reid gave me your name after she read my query in the Chum Bucket Query Hour last Saturday night."
Here's why you use that exact sentence:
1. It's critical you give my name. Anything that cloaks the recommender in anonymity is instantly discounted by the agent you're now querying.
2. Make sure you say "read my query" rather than "read my pages" so the agent you're now querying knows I didn't read and pass on the full
3. Make sure you say Chum Bucket. That means my pals know I was responding personally to your email and it wasn't some blanket statement at a conference. Generally I'm going to send you to my pals, colleagues I know and trust, that I follow on Twitter and in the blogosphere.
Very very rarely do I call an agent and insist she take a look at a project. I can think of fewer than five times I've done that and each was such a special circumstance that it would not apply to 99.9% of the people reading this blog.