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10 ways to ask for referrals without feeling gross!

Referrals make the world go round.

Ok, not exactly, but they certainly help our business grow and are an essential part of most business models. On average, word-of-mouth drives $6 trillion in annual global spending and is responsible for 13% of all sales.

Like that fact? Check out more cool data on word of mouth.

Before we jump into how to ask for referrals here is some essential advice before the big ask:

  • Be specific about the ask and about your business.

  • Be authentic.

  • Make the ask as part of a natural conversation

  • Believe in yourself and your product/service.

  • Be confident. They can smell your fear! Not really, but they can totally feel your energy. Help them catch your high vibes.

  • Practice in low risk situations.

Now let’s skip to the good part.

We are ready to start drumming up business via referrals and word of mouth. Here are 10 ways to ask for referrals without feeling gross!

I have provided quotes so that you can literally even copy/paste.

  1. Start with the easy ones…friends and family. Hopefully these are your homeboys that have your back and are shouting your successes from the rooftop. If not, consider why not. I suggest asking them “Do you feel you know my work well enough to refer my services” If you are anything like me, my family probably could not tell you exactly what I do….I mean for 10 years they would use Hyatt and Hilton interchangeably LOL. So make sure you can express to them exactly what you do and who they can refer to you.

  2. Reviews, Case Studies & Success Stories. These are low risk asks and these require little effort on the part of the contact you're asking for the referral. Just last week I sent a text to a friend that I have done work for and said, “oh by the way, can you write a quick review” and provide the link. For a former client with a great success story I sent a quick email and said “I would love to include this material in my next newsletter, is that ok?”

  3. Like and share on your social media. Sometimes this one feels tedious to me even though it is so simple, probably because we are inundated with social media. But it is another low risk, low effort referral opportunity and builds the top of your funnel and gets those eyeballs on your business. On Linkedin and facebook you can send invites to your connections for them to follow you or your page. Or as I did a couple weeks ago I sent direct messages to those close to me and said “I would love your support! Please like, share and follow. I hate to ask but I gotta play by those damn algorithm rules.” People can appreciate the authenticity and personal messaging!

  4. Digital options. This suggestion does not even require you to make a formal ask. Winning!! By adding digital options to your email signature, adding buttons to your website or including it on your invoices you make it super easy for people to remember you need referrals and you made it ultra easy for them to pass along your contact information or those contact details. I will be doing this myself this week!! An email signature or invoice might look like Like our work? Please refer us to your family, friends and colleagues!”

  5. Promotions, Incentives, referral programs. This might take a little more of a concerted effort but referral programs can be highly effective. This is the “you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours” mentality aka friends with benefits. You are essentially giving a kickback or some sort of monetary compensation for the referral. Some effective email campaigns for a referral program might look like a gift card for each referral, a percentage off your future services, or a dollar amount per each piece of closed business or purchased product.

  6. Leave behind marketing materials. If you have friends, family, clients, colleagues, doctors offices, etc where you can leave behind materials, please do so!! Heck you could even post it at your library or even your local starbucks. Maybe that's not your brand but maybe it is? One thing I have learned to do is when I hand out business cards I always give out 2. I tell them one for you and one for a friend. Also, to all my lady friends reading this: Please have your business cards handy. I remember going to a networking event once and wearing a dress without pockets (sigh). Then I had to dig into my purse with a glass of wine in my hand while trying to shake hands and smile. It was not easy, it was not cute, and the moment for the business card exchange was lost or awkward. HA

Here is an idea I have not personally tried (yet!) but love. If you have an ad in a magazine, you can carry around a bunch of those magazines, maybe in your car, and then you can hand them out when you meet people. Potentially handing them to existing or potential clients, or someone who you think is a valuable network partner -and to take it a step further, doggy ear the page with your ad in it!

  1. Give referrals. Yes!! The Go Giver Mentality. The concept that the more you give, the more you will get in return. From my experience, someone reached out just the other day to ask if they could refer me. I was in awe. Like, yes please!! I will totally remember them and refer to their business because of this gesture and will 100 percent be reaching out to my network asking who needs referrals and how I can support them!

  2. Lost business- Just hear me out…Let’s say you nailed your presentation and really vibed but you were out of their price range or they found someone else that is a better fit. That's ok! But it was still a good experience and just this was not a fit between the two of you. Try the “Please keep me in mind for the future!” at the end of the meeting. I have seen this work! Honestly, I had a prospect turn me down and then 2 months later come back and say it wasn't working out with the other person they hired and they would like to use me! Sometimes an immediate no is simply a “not now”!

  3. The clients that love you. OBVIOUSLY! These should be your best sources of referral. They love you, they love your work, and they know your work well. Tap into these clients. Presumably you have built an incredible relationship with them and they would be happy to recommend you. In my personal experience I have done this during quarterly business reviews. I ask them for feedback on my work and when they tell me I am amazing (hehe) I reply with “Thank you for that feedback. It would mean the world to me for you to share my business with others. Do you have any one that you might be able to refer me to?” Another way I have naturally brought this up in conversations is at the end of a conversation I might say “Do you know any other business owners that are looking to be more profitable?” Again, I am specific about my services and what I can offer. Alternatively I use clients for introductions. Sometimes I have my eye on a specific target and noticed on Linkedin that we have a mutual connection. I will ask them to introduce me to that person, or invite me to networking events. I even offer to provide scripts for them!

  4. Directly ask. You have got to build up the courage again for this one, but it really is the most effective way to get your referrals. I am supplying you with more verbiage that you can use in emails or in person to get those recommendations.

  • “Please think of me!”

  • “Word of mouth is a key component of my business. I would really appreciate a referral.”

  • “Is there anyone else you know that could benefit from similar success and my work?”

  • “I'm always looking for ways to help others, do you know anyone that would like to be more profitable?”

My last words of advice on referrals. Do good and be good. You are representing not only yourself but the person who refers to you. I have found it incredibly embarrassing when I refer to someone and then the person I referred them to does not have a good experience. I feel personally responsible and I will not be recommending them again.

What do you do after you have received a referral? Thank them personally! If someone takes the effort to refer you, whether or not that referral works out, you should feel immense gratitude. They believe in you and support you and took the time and energy to refer you. Please consider thanking them with an email, a handwritten note (my personal favorite), or a small gift of appreciation.

Now we hope you can utilize some of these ideas starting now so that you can start making more money in your business using the momentum you’re incredible track record has given you! Now, come on… we HAVE to ask…Do you know anyone in need of our services? We just started offering project management as a stand alone service and are ready to fill these spots with hospitality industry businesses who are ready to increase their revenue and grow their impact!

If you want more information on working with us or you would like to send a referral our way click here! We can’t wait to hear how these tips help you out in your own business!

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