Everyone loves referrals. They're inexpensive, fast, and easy. No need to chase down and convince a promising lead when a satisfied client is handing him or her to you on the proverbial silver platter. Quite often, they're lucrative: New clients are willing to pay you a little more if you've been vetted by a colleague they trust. For that same reason – the built-in trust – they're more open to your guidance once they've become your client. All of this adds up to a more fun and rewarding way to do business.
So how do you get to the point where referrals are flowing in consistently? There are two main ingredients: One, build deeply connected, trust-based, authentic relationships with your clients; and two, create a system that perpetually yields new referral-based business.
When your existing clients trust you and feel cared for, referrals will follow. But don't just wait for referrals to come to you. Get proactive about cultivating them in other ways. Once you've got a system in place, your new referrals will continue to fuel more new referrals.
I built my own thriving business on the power of referrals. Following early success in the clothing industry, I experienced a financially devastating bankruptcy that forced me to rebuild my life from scratch. I went on to join Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, where I created an impressive financial portfolio and won multiple "Top Agent" awards. Referrals from satisfied clients kept new business rolling in.
My average client would purchase seven contracts from me and in turn would refer me to the folks they respect and like, either through their personal and social networks or their business contacts. I also gained a great number of referrals by way of the countless charities to which I donated money and time. You, too, can help your business flourish by harnessing the power of referrals. Follow these tips for building a referral system that generates results.
Identify untapped clients in your network
Take a moment to identify contacts in your business, social, or family networks who may be potential clients themselves or know of new potential clients. Chances are, there are many contacts in your network who could be contacted and converted into clients.
Attend every single industry event you can
Make a list on a quarterly basis of industry events you could attend in order to keep up with competing businesses, stay on top of trends, and become aware of new client markets.
Get referrals from former clients
When do you ask for referrals? At the end of a transaction, after the client has had the opportunity to see the work you have done and you've established a solid relationship of trust. Who are your former clients? Schedule a meeting with them now.
Take full advantage of online networking
Keep your profile active and up-to-date. Make sure your business also has an active and well-curated Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter account with interesting thought leader-style blogs, podcasts, and articles.
Connect with professionals outside of your industry
High-powered professionals need and want to hire other high-powered professionals such as doctors, lawyers, venture capitalists, and CEOs of various companies. Take a look at ways you can connect with these professionals outside of your industry and reach out to them.
Create face-to-face networking events
Establish relationships with organizations and businesses and organize events where you can offer your expertise. You can capture your social media networks, along with all of your other potential connections, by holding a mixer or open house, or offering a free presentation where you can talk one-on-one with many prospective clients. Make sure to include Facebook friends, people you've never met, and friends of clients in your invitation.
Help charities and non-profits
Donate your time and money to charities, share your expertise on boards of directors, attend galas, mixers, and other charity social events. Your involvement with charity work will enrich your professional and personal relationships and indirectly expand your reach of potential clients.
Cultivate your personal life
If you only stay in your office working, it limits your exposure to new clients. But getting active and involved in your local community opens you up to meeting others who might be looking for your services. Join a local religious organization, a common interest group, a gym, a country club, or an amateur sports league, and build your network while having fun and enjoying your life.
If you are looking to grow your brand exponentially, referrals are crucial. You get to efficiently expand your network, while working with and getting to know people who already trust and like you. The best part is, having a robust stream of referrals is confirmation that you are doing something right.
You are far more in control of your company’s growth than you give yourself credit for. That's why it's so important to take true ownership of the connection you build with your clients. You'll be amazed how much your deeper commitment to them will pay off in the long run.