I’ve a confession to make. I’m not great at asking for referrals. I usually end up mumbling something lame to my clients like, “If you know of anyone who might like to use my services, please let them know about me.” That’s it. Then I’m out the door.
I decided it was time to get my act together and do a better job. I’ve been doing some research on referral strategies and here’s what I’ve learned. I hope you’ll find it helps you as well.
- Don’t forget to ask. The best time to ask for a referral is when you’ve delivered your book or video to your clients and they’re thrilled with your work.
- Develop a large network of referral partners. In addition to your own clients, think of five to ten occupations that deal with the same clients as personal historians such as: financial planners, home care services for seniors, accountants, funeral directors, professional genealogists, naturopaths, and so on. Now select ten people from each category and arrange to meet them so that you can describe your services and learn more about what they offer. When you find people who are prepared to refer clients to you, add them to your referral partners list. In time you can build a referral list with fifty or more names. Make sure to follow up with your network every three months or so.
- Be active in your community. Make a point of joining business associations and community groups. Your participation will in time lead to referrals.
- Provide referrals. Giving referrals for others is likely to generate in-kind referrals from those you’ve helped.
- Make yourself a low risk referral. Let’s face it. People don’t want to take a chance on referring someone they don’t know very well. They stand to lose if you screw up. People want assurances. Here’s what you need to do.
0 Be likable. No one wants to refer someone who’s rude or patronizing.
0 Be extremely reliable. Show up for meetings on time, complete work as scheduled, and answer e-mails and telephone calls promptly.
0 Provide free consultations.
0 Provide money back guarantees.
- Give your referrers the resources they need. Make it easy for them by leaving behind some business cards and brochures.
- Don’t be vague about the type of client you want. It will help if you give them an accurate picture of your ideal client. You might say something like, “I’m looking for clients who are professional women in their 50′s who have one or both parents still living.”
- Be clear about what you expect. Do you want them to set up a meeting with just you and the prospective client? Or would you like them to be there as well? Is it OK to use their names when calling referred clients?
What referral approaches work for you? Let me know. I’d love to hear from you.
Photo by Zach Klein
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