Our last article, Generate money without spending any (Part 1), covered the very basics of getting a referral plan into place. But you can’t just sit back and wait for the business to roll in – you need to get into the habit of generating referrals as an instinctive, everyday task – much like getting up and brushing your teeth every morning. We’d like to offer a few ideas on how to build on the momentum and keep it going so that it becomes a habit, rather than a chore.
1. Grow a strong trusted professional network
Just collecting lots of LinkedIn contacts or Facebook followers is not enough – you need people you can trust, who can trust you and who will keep you at the forefront of their minds when referring you and your business. It doesn’t need to be a huge network – quality is better than quantity. And don’t forget – referrers can be clients but also can be colleagues, friends, family, associates, suppliers and all sorts of other people you know in your personal and professional life.
2. Time it right
It’s important to strike while the iron’s hot. When you’ve done some good work, or you’re getting praise, or someone is mentioning how difficult it is to find good (whatever you do)’ers make sure that you promote yourself and what you can do. Prove yourself first before asking for a referral and you’re far more likely to get one.
3. Give the right message
Don’t be shy. Make sure that you’re confident about what you can do – you aren’t begging, you’re helping others benefit from the excellent services you offer. But don’t be tempted to over-promise, or agree to anything that you know you can’t deliver. Offer a guarantee – if your services are good, you’ve got nothing to lose and it provides reassurance to a new customer.
4. Get your referral tools in place
Every time you complete a successful piece of work, ask your clients to be a case study or provide a testimonial (offer to write it for them so that all they have to do is approve it).
Create short descriptions about what you do and the benefits of your service. These can be in the form of web pages, or documents for download, just as long as you make sure it’s easy for your referrers to pass on your information to potential clients. Linking your email signature to these pages will make it even simpler and the easier it is to refer you, the more likely you are to be referred.
5. Stay in touch
There’s nothing quite as effective as a personal recommendation to get you a new client, but for it to work, you need to know your referrer and they need to believe in you. Follow up with previous clients from time to time – stay in the forefront of their mind both for follow up work and to get referrals. Tell your referrer how the referral went – people like to know that they’ve been helpful and it’s useful for them to have some feedback for the next time they see their contact, even if it didn’t work out this time.
Do be careful though – there’s a difference between genuine interest and stalking and it usually shows!
If you’re thinking that this is all too hard, or you haven’t got the time, just remember – referral leads are more likely to be interested in your services. They are more likely to believe in what you are selling. And they are more likely to stick with you — even if you botch the sales pitch. In short, referral leads are ready to buy what you’ve got to sell. So what are you waiting for?
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