Several of my colleagues get business - a lot of business - through referrals. This isn't my situation at all. Maybe I'll get one or two referrals a year but these rarely turn into business. What's the secret?
A referral is a testimonial by someone who sees value in what you have to offer. But this doesn't happen without some intervention on your part. Four things must happen to get great referrals. The referrer must (1) recognize specific value in what you have to offer, (2) know that a referral is of value to you, (3) know to whom they should make a referral, and (4) have a reason to make the referral.
First, be clear what you want them to value. They hired you for a reason but you might want referrals in another area. Tell them specifically what skills and behaviors you want them to tell others about. They will know of a lot more potential work using servicces other than what you provided them.
Second, clients are not mind readers. Your relationship is based on you helping them, not the other way around. Tell them you'd appreciate a referral. Most will be happy to do it if you just asked. Delivering exceptional value can't hurt their desire to look a bit harder to find you a referral.
Third, make a list of specific people or types of people for whom you'd like a referral. This may or may not be the same as your "ideal cllient" but is likely close. Don't make your clients work hard to create referrals on your behalf. Better that they look at a list you've given them and think of people to whom they could make a referral that you didn't even know existed. Tip:
Finally, Make it worth their while. Why would they take time and risk their reputation? Because you can provide a client's colleagues with the same value you provided them. Just like you are more than willing to recommend a great restaurant, create a desire in your client to make the referral on your behalf. © 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA