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Learning the Art of Referral Business

Business Forward Issue 72

Much like cold calling, asking for referrals can seem daunting. However unlike cold calling, referral business usually comes off the back of having done a good job for someone, so you're already on the front foot. The first step is asking for the referral. Before that you need the confidence to ask and, of course, to know how to ask for it and who to ask.

Your best customers are your current ones. Assess your client database. Have you had a recent success with a client? Most people don't think about a potential link until asked. Perhaps someone is willing to put your name forward but they just need a little prompting? Approach satisfied clients and ask if you can help someone they know. You may be surprised by the outcome.

What goes around comes around. Attend networking events and develop connections with other business people. Make the effort to really understand other businesses. Learn what they do, what's important to them and ask questions. By doing so, you will see how their business can help you and your clients and suppliers. And vice versa.

Be seen and heard on social media. If you're not on LinkedIn then you should be. If you lack confidence in the cyber world, simply do a little research and learn how to manage the different sites effectively. There are dozens of websites that provide step-by-step, easy to follow instructions on how to market yourself and your business to create awareness of your brand. Once you've got the basics sorted, you can start to learn about other businesses and get to work on referring and asking for referrals.

Refer business to others. That age old saying 'give and you shall receive' could not be truer when it comes to referral business. Think about your friends, family and current clients. Then think about the businesses and people you've been networking with. How can you connect the two? Try and do this regularly and you will see the benefits. It may take time to start reaping the rewards but referring business will pay off – and it can make it easier if you need to ask for a referral in return.

The biggest and most important factor in referral business is awareness. Know your brand. Know your competitors, peers and supporters and how each can provide a product or service to those you know. Try and think this way on a regular basis so it becomes second nature.


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