Business Essentials: How to ask for referrals (without cringing)
Hands up if you win a decent chunk of work from referrals? Quite a few of you? Thought so. Keep your hand up if you have a solid strategy in place for requesting referrals. If your hand is still raised, then well done you - off to the top of the class. For those of you who sheepishly retracted, while wondering what a referral strategy might look like in the first place, listen up. This post's for you. Know who to approach for a referral
Chances are, there'll be some clients who you enjoy working with more than others. There are those who are a joy to work with, who bring you exciting and challenging work and who behave impeccably (no late payments or other such nuisance behaviour from them...). The sort who you'd be overjoyed to fill your days working with. Those are the people to ask for referrals from - not the clients who you'd rather forget.
Pick your moment
The best point to ask for a referral is when you're coming to the end of a project, while everyone is on a high from the work you've done together. I find that it's most effective to ask for the referral as a project goes live, rather than days or weeks afterwards.
How will you ask?
Personally, I think there's nothing wrong with asking for a referral face to face. However, if you're too shy to do that (what is it with us Brits?), email is your friend. And if even that feels uncomfortable, try writing yourself a template that you can whip out when needed. Something along the lines of 'it's been such a pleasure to work with you on xxxx. I do my best work with people just like you, and would love it if you could recommend me to your friends'. Easy!
Show your thanks
How you say thank you is up to you. A handwritten note and chocolates are rarely turned down, but a truly personalised gift goes a long way to say thank you.
What better way to show that you're in the game of sharing contacts than giving out referrals yourself? It's a fact that those who you send work to will want to return the favour, so spread the love and share those contacts!