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21 Ways To Get More Referrals ~ For Free

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BizyDad

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A quick search of the forum and I found little advice about how to get more referrals. The closest is some excellent advice from Andy Black in a couple of threads. When I find them again, I'll post them below.

Sure, maybe asking for referrals isn’t as awesome as having a killer affiliate program or an ad campaign generating sales for $1, but for those who are in sales positions, looking to start their biz, building offline businesses, or those who are just trying to bootstrap their way up to their next level, referrals can be a God send.

They are further proof that you are doing something right.

Now, many on here are extroverted and/or successful and probably don’t need help in this department. I hope you get something out of this, even just one tip, but really, this post is for the other ~85% of you trying to make it happen. I'm trying to make getting referrals easier for those with little money and are nervous about making connections.

So I figure I’ll get this thread started with several ideas and tactics I’ve used and coached others to use to build businesses. And since I am mainly writing this for the bootstrappers, I am going to limit my ideas to things you can do for free to get more referrals.

A couple basics first.

Just Ask

Ok, this is obvious. It doesn’t even count as an idea. But I know from experience that most people don’t ask for referrals. And you miss 100% of the swings you don’t take. So ask. It can be as simple and gentle as, “Do you know anyone that needs my help?”

Remove Doubt / Be Referrable

Again, pretty obvious. But if you are asking for a referral right after you signed a client, you won’t get as many referrals as you will if you ask after delivering the goods and making them super happy.

So don’t mess up. Deliver the goods. Or if you mess up, fess up (honestly will often earn you referrals, especially if you are in a “smarmy” industry).

Be knowledgeable about your industry. Show that you take pride in your work. Smile. Speak confidently. Be an expert. And don't be afraid to say "I don't know, let me find out, and get back to you". In short, be someone who people can confidently refer to.

Ok, now that we have those basics covered, onto the tips.


1) Be Specifically Different

This one is kind of like the point above; it is also like “knowing your niche”.

A while back, I read somewhere that pediatric dentists pay off their student loans on average 30-ish% faster than general dentists and have a lower failure rate in their first practice. Why? Because they have a drilled down expertise.

Don’t be just a real estate agent. Be one who helps churches. Or specializes in Canadians moving to town. Or helps athletes.

An old business coach friend of mine always said “If you’re for everybody, you’re for nobody.” In other words, don’t say you “Can help anyone with teeth”. Say you specialize in “People with Yellow Teeth” or “Kids Teeth” or “People With Lockjaw”, etc.


2) Record Yourself

If you are reading this, maybe you don’t feel confident asking for referrals. Record yourself asking. I’m serious. Notice your eyes, your hands, your cadence, your word choice. Show the recording to an honest friend. Are you coming across as someone confidently asking for a deserved referral, or are you basically begging for them to help you?

Keep practicing until you “get it right”. And practice for different situations. Asking at the end of a client meeting verses asking at a networking event. You get the idea.


3) Network In The Right Places

If you want more referrals, go to the “places” (online or offline) where people are more likely to know your “perfect” client.

So if you are trying to reach old folks, network at estate planners meetings or golf courses. If you want to meet building owners, check out their trade show. Or host an event with a commercial real estate brokerage. I want to work with small business owners. Funny enough, I'm on an entrepreneur forum…


4) COI's

Centers of Influence. This is also the Andy Black/Jay Abraham "who else has your customers?".

The point is if you want more referrals, build relationships with the people in the best position to send you referrals. Who else serves your clientele, and how can you get the to send you business.

PRO TIP. Don't offer them money. Nothing says "Don't trust this gal" quite like her saying, "Hey send me your trusted customers and I'll pay you a cut of what I charge them." Whenever I get approached like that, I always think to myself your product is overpriced.


5) Tell A Good Story

Stories are powerful. Stories make you memorable. You want more referrals, tell good stories.

My favorite example is my buddy the chiropractor. When my ex was pregnant with our first, he just mentioned to her casually, "If you want to have that baby, come see me the day before you want to give birth." She asked why, and he told her about a time he did an adjustment on a pregnant woman and she gave birth the next day. It's just a trick he learned along the way.

Well we went the natural childbirth route, so when the time came, she went to see him.

It Freaking Worked!

She gave birth to our little man like 16 hrs later. To this day, she tells all her "crunchy" friends. Our midwife starts sending him business. She tells other midwives.They send their clients. When we had our second, it worked again. So now I'm telling you.

Find ways to tell great stories about how you help people.


6) The "How Are You" Method

How many times a day do people ask how you're doing? How often do you ask maximize this opportunity? What if everyday you wake up and decide on three stories you want to share with people that day?

I'm going to use some examples I've picked up from the forum, and what I would say if I were these people. Hope you guys don't mind...

How are you doing @amp0193 ?

I'm great. I just had this family post a picture in our Facebook group of some modifications they made to their purchase. You should see this thing. (Pull out my phone to show them) It's amazing.

How are you doing @GuitarManDan ?

I'm ok, but a client just let me go because she's getting too many leads from her website. She can't handle it all. Can you imagine?

(Yea, I read that one in his progress thread. If it were me I'd be talking about that for a few weeks. In fact I've done it. If sometime doesn't give me a referral right away, I will later circle back (maybe a couple weeks later) with another tactic from this post and sure enough, they'll refer because they remember this story.)

How are you doing @Ravens_Shadow ?

Man, I'm great. This gaming company just released this awesome trailer of their game with explosions and fire that uses our software to make the effects. It's legit. Check it out (pull out my phone to show them...)

So what stories can you be telling people?


7) Give A Referral, Or 3

If you want referrals, give referrals. Don't make it all about you. (You can read more about how I leveraged this one in my post about being a banker).

This works especially well if you're the kind of person that doesn't want to ask for a referral. It just becomes a lot easier to ask for one when you've generously given three already. But often by the third legit referral, people usually say man, I should get you a referral. And if they don't, ask confidently.


8) Thank Someone For A Referral

This one combines the previous two points, but critically you are not actually going to ask for a referral here.

You're going to think of somebody that was referred to you, then call and thank the person that did the referring. This could even be done a year or two after the fact.

Just call them up and say thank you for referring me so and so, I've really enjoyed working with them, they're such a great client, they have such a great business, and we've really clicked. Tell them a story about the results of your work. So I just wanted to say I really appreciate you connecting us.

And leave it at that.

If there's anyone else they have to refer to you, they will. You won't have to ask.


9) If You Know Anybody Who

This is a soft phrase that you can use to start asking for referrals. If you know anybody who runs a small business of less than 5 employees and wants to be found on Google maps, could you please send them my way? If you know anyone who has kids and is shopping for a home, can you send them my way? If you know anyone who runs an ecommerce store and can't stand their bookkeeper, can you send them my way? If you know anyone who has a slow loading website, can you send them my way?

See how easy it is? Just remember the tip from above to be specific. Being specific will make the ask more memorable.


10) Don't Always Be Available

This is actually one of my favorite tactics, although I'm not sure it's conducive to fast lane status. But it plays on the idea of scarcity.

Tell people you aren't taking on more clients. Be open about the fact that you are focusing on your existing book of business. First off, this will make your clients trust you more. they'll be thankful they have someone who cares about them enough to focus on the work. So when the time comes for you to want a referral, and you go to ask for a referral, they're going to be a lot more likely to give you one.


11) Give A Testimonial

Similar to some of the practices above, but this time offer a testimonial for your client. You praising them will leave a great impression of you (and hopefully your business) in there mind. You can send them an email, or you can leave a detailed review for them online.

Pro-Tip - leave reviews for your COI's and slide in what you do for a living. Hypothetically:

I just love @CareCPA 's accounting service. I run a local SEO service and they've really streamlined our bookkeeping. It used to be such a nightmare. Plus he saved me 5k in taxes last year.

(Disclaimer, I'm not actually a client of his, none of that is true, I'm not even sure he does bookkeeping... but if you need a CPA, check him out. I know he knows his stuff. ;) )


12) Don't Keep Me A Secret

I have to give credit to Bill Cates for this one and his book Get More Referrals now. I'm not recommend you read it, unless maybe you are a financial advisor. It is a too structured method to get referrals that doesn't work for most business.

But that is where I got this one tip. (I barely remember anything else in the book). The idea here is to finish your request for a referral with this line, "Don't keep me a secret".

Hey so and so, if you're business friends need help, you know where to send them. Don't keep me a secret.

I always felt cheesy using it, it just isn't my style. But it worked. People would give me a referral, sometimes days later, and they'd be all proud, like "I didn't keep you a secret!"

Another way you can use it is to make a sign and our it in your exit door. Something to the effect of:

"If you liked the service, tell your friends.
Don't keep us a secret"​


13) Have A Cause

You want people to send you more business? Have a cause you believe in and make it part of your business. This will connect you with certain communities. Dog lovers, Christians, Veterans, kids in Africa etc. People want to support businesses that stand up for something.


14) Have A Mission

This one's a little different. For example, I'm on a mission to stop price gouging in my industry. My competitor's margin is my opportunity. I’ll write more about that later. But what’s your mission? What is something about your company that stands out and people can rally behind?


15) Educate

Experts get referrals. And those who teach are perceived as experts. So host a workshop in your field. Invite potential clients and centers of influence.

Like how a power wash guy will speak to a whole room of Realtors. Or financial planners host "lunch and learns".


16) Reviews

Make sure you have good reviews online. When someone refers you, that person will probably check before they call. (But often not, which speaks to the power of referral marketing)


17) Be award winning

Another way to build your credibility and referrability. Throw your hat in the ring for awards. Some awards we've helped clients get are:
  • Best places to live by XYZ magazine
  • Winner Ranking Arizona
  • Business Journal book of lists
  • Angie's list service award
  • Houzz award
  • City of Phx Certified Green Company
So throw your hat in the ring for any award you can.


18) Get In The Press

This can be a whole other post about how to get in the press for free. I promise I'll write one someday.

But here's a quick idea. Win one of those awards we just talked about, then send a press release to your local and industry publications. And when you get in the press, be sure to create the "As Seen In" area of your website...


19) The LinkedIn Ask

Have you ever looked at your list of second contacts on LinkedIn? Do it. Do a search for people by job title that you want to meet. "Owner" or "HR director" for example.

Filter the list by "people". Then by second connections. Click on a person and see who you have in common.

Call one of your friends and ask them to introduce you to the prospect.

(Pro reminder - And what are you going to do when they answer and ask how you are doing...?)


20) Email signature… include phone number

Ask for referrals in your email signature. And please include your phone number. Something like this can do the trick:

"Do you know anyone that can use my help? Give them my cell number 602-555-1212. Feel free to forward them this email. Don't keep me a secret."


21) Ask people to tell their stories on social media

I love this tactic for hair stylist, chiropractors, and dentists. Any job where you just basically just made someone look or feel good. Ask them to share the story on social media and tag your company page in their post.

Depending on how clever you want to get, you can find ways to get them to do it on their phone before they even leave your office.

------------------------------

If you've read my other posts, you know I can go on for days. This time, I figured I'd get the ball rolling. I just sat down and typed until I had to get back to work. I hope this spark some ideas that you can apply to your business.

I'll add more to the list later, but do you have a tactic to share with the group? Even it is costs money, I"d love to hear it.
 

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Andy Black

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Great post @BizyDad!


I'm big on referrals because I believe it's part of:


A quick search of the forum and I found little advice about how to get more referrals. The closest is some excellent advice from Andy Black in a couple of threads. When I find them again, I'll post them below.
I'm curious which threads of mine you're referring to.

Here's my main sales thread. Maybe it was something in here?
 

Andy Black

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To put a slight twist on this:

6) The "How Are You" Method
8) Thank Someone (For A Referral)
I've probably sent over 3,000 private messages to people who've followed me or given me rep in the forum.

I thank them for following / giving me rep.

Then I ask "How're things going?".

Small conversations ensue.

As well as me getting to know them a bit more (and hopefully helping them), people get to know *me* a bit more.

It's not been intentional on my part, but of course people are more likely to refer someone on because they've had a (good!) personal interaction with them.

They know that whoever they refer onto me will also have a personal and polite conversation with me, and that I'll go out of my way to help them. This is as important or more so than me being skilled at a particular subject.
 
OP
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BizyDad

BizyDad

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To put a slight twist on this:





I've probably sent over 3,000 private messages to people who've followed me or given me rep in the forum.

I thank them for following / giving me rep.

Then I ask "How're things going?".

Small conversations ensue.

As well as me getting to know them a bit more (and hopefully helping them), people get to know *me* a bit more.

It's not been intentional on my part, but of course people are more likely to refer someone on because they've had a (good!) personal interaction with them.

They know that whoever they refer onto me will also have a personal and polite conversation with me, and that I'll go out of my way to help them. This is as important or more so than me being skilled at a particular subject.
Completely agree. You did it to me. And I just thought to myself, what a classy thing to do.

I've been doing it ever since. I've met some charming people this way. Everyone should do this.

Great tip Andy.
 

Nicoknowsbest

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Love it @BizyDad, thanks!

I believe it was Noah Kagan (AppSumo), who shared something similar recently.

Some of his mates developed a formula that works particularly well for getting introductions.

He'd meet with somebody personally, have a chat, and afterwards send a quick email like this:

####
Hi {name},

it was great meeting you.

Here are the top 3 things I learned from you:
- A
- B
- C

If you think there's 3 people in your network I should talk to in the next couple of days/weeks, I'd really appreciate it if you could connect us.

Thanks.
####


With this simple email "trick", he was able to massively expand his network within a short period of time.

Another thing that comes to mind is the "5 minute favor". This is an idea from the book "Give or Take". People will always ask for help, and some might overstep. Limiting it to 5 minutes of your time invested is a great way to help loads of people, while still protecting yourself.

Seems both things make you super referable as well.
 

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