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.
How can you get to the point where referrals are flowing in consistently? Successful businessman and author Paul G. Krasnow says there are two main ingredients: one, build deeply connected, trust-based, authentic relationships with your clients; two, create a system that perpetually yields new referral-based business.
“When your existing clients trust you and feel cared for, referrals will follow,” says Krasnow, author of “The Success Code: A Guide for Achieving Your Personal Best in Business and Life,” “but don’t just wait for referrals to come to you. Get proactive about cultivating them in other ways. Once you’ve got a strong system in place, your new referrals will continue to fuel more new referrals.”
Krasnow built his own thriving business on the power of referrals. Following early success in the clothing industry, he experienced a financially devastating bankruptcy that forced him to rebuild his life from scratch. He went on to join Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, where he 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,” says Krasnow. “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. Krasnow offers the following tips for building a referral system that gets results every time:
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.
Schedule meetings with former clients to get referrals. 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 sites like LinkedIn. 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 other 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 your own face-to-face networking events for your online contacts. 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 to expand your referral pool. If you only stay in your office working, it limits your exposure to new clients. 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,” concludes Krasnow. “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.”
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