4 Easy Ways To Turn Your Contacts Into Profitable Referral Sources

Want more referrals for your freelance business? Learn four ways to ask for referrals, discover who to ask, and find out how to become referral-worthy.

If you want more leads and referrals you need to ask for more leads and referrals.

You have a network of people — family, friends, colleagues, business contacts, social acquaintances, club members, sports team members, industry peers, etc. — many of whom would love to support you and help you by making a referral.

Luckily, turning your existing clients and contacts into new lead sources and referral sources is easy: All you need to do is ask. Well, sort of… What I really should have said is, all you need to do is ask the right way.

Here are four simple ways to ask for referrals:

01. Be Referral-Worthy

The very first step to turn contacts into referral sources is making sure that you’re actually referral-worthy. What you must understand about referrals is the risk associated with giving a referral.

When you make a referral, you’re putting your own reputation and brand on the line.

If you refer a friend to a service provider, product, course, or program and they have a great experience, it makes you look good and they will be thankful for the referral. If you give a friend a referral, and they have a bad experience, it will make you look bad and they’ll wonder why you made the referral in the first place.

When someone else makes a referral to you or your business, they are putting their reputation and brand on the line.

If you deliver a remarkable service, you’ll earn more referrals, but if you fail to deliver, the referrals will stop. You need to position yourself as credible, reliable, and trustworthy, and build a brand reputation around integrity, incredible customer service, and extraordinary experiences.

You want others to believe that if they refer someone they care about to you, you’ll take great care of them and make you both look good.

02. Start With Your Happy Clients

Your happy clients want to refer business to you, but they often don’t know how or if you even need new clients. Reach out to your clients, share your ideal client profile with them, and ask if they know anyone who fits that description, who would benefit from working with you, or who is looking for the services you offer right now.

The best time to ask for a referral is right after someone has complimented your work or spoke highly of their experience with you and your business. Thank them for their praise and mention that you have openings for new clients. Then ask if they know of anyone who may be a great fit or who may benefit from the same results they have experienced.

03. Reach Out To Strategic Contacts

Just as all referrals are not created equal, not all contacts are created equal. Make a master list of all of your contacts that includes what they do and who they serve. Review the list and identify people who serve the same target market or ideal client that you do, but offer a different service, product, or program.

With your strategic list of potential referral partners in hand, choose the best approach for contacting them:

  • Reach out by email to share a bit about what’s going in in your business and why you’re reaching out to them, how you can help them and their tribe, and invite them to talk by phone or video chat to learn more.
  • Send a personalized referral letter via snail mail (like the letters stuffed in Christmas Cards, but about your business) that explains what’s new in your business, who your ideal client is, why they should care, how you can help.
  • Invite them to reach out to learn more or call them so you can catch up, see what they are up, and share what’s new with you.

04. Send A High Quality Referral

If you want to start earning referrals from an influencer or big player in your niche, first consider sending them a high quality, pre-vetted, perfect-fit referral (or two).

  • When you deliver strong referrals that convert to paying clients and customers, you’re going to be noticed more quickly.
  • When the clients you refer their way end up being awesome clients with enjoyable projects, they’re going to want more of those referrals from you.
  • When you help grow their business, they’re going to want to learn more about you so they can return the favor.

Remember, play the long game. Give first, share always, and enjoy the rewards.

Become A Referral Magnet

If you want clients to recommend you to their network, strangers to refer you to their friends, and contacts to deliver quality leads on a regular basis, you need to look at every relationship — from contact to client — as critical partnerships that are vital to your success.

Treat your referral partnerships, lead sources, and strategic contacts with respect, communicate clearly with them about what’s happening in your business, what you offer, and who you work with, and help them send the best referrals and leads your way. Then sit back and watch your freelance business grow.

Some links used on this site are “affiliate links.” If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

About Jennifer Bourn

With 22 years of experience as a graphic designer, 16 as a web designer/creative agency owner, 12 as a blogger, and 5 as a course creator and content strategist, Jennifer helps small businesses build brands, create content, and grow profitable online platforms. Her renowned business systems and automations allow her business to thrive while she travels with her husband of 21 years and two teenagers, squeezes in daily workouts, tries new recipes, speaks at events, facilitates workshops like Content Camp, and leads online courses like Profitable Project Plan.

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