I'll let you in on a little secret...
The Write Stuff Agency has been built almost entirely on referrals. It's true.
I've spoken before about how this business started almost on something of a lark, trying to road test the idea of content writing for others under their own brands.
I was, and always will be, incredibly grateful to those initial clients who believed in my skillset and were willing to take a chance. The local real estate agent looking to boost his profile, the real estate lawyer who had been struggling to do her own website, the criminal lawyer who had just joined a new partnership, the Masters student who needed some editing help with her thesis, the friend whose company needed some website copy - they all took a chance on someone they thought to be a decent writer, and thankfully it paid off.
What happened next though was even more incredible - they told their friends.
Not only was their business getting more traction from having great content, but when people took notice, they were more than happy to share my name.
They've kept sharing, and as more clients are satisfied, they've kept sharing still. These referrals have been invaluable to the growth of the business, and every last one is the highest compliment.
In the past I've spoken about how people need to know, like, and trust you. Once all of those boxes are checked though, people inherently want to send work your way.
If you know of a great mechanic, and your friend mentions that they've been having car trouble, your natural inclination is to make the connection between the two.
If you used a lawyer who was able to help you out of a difficult situation, and you have a relative who is now in a similar position, you would not hesitate for a moment to pass along their name.
Our natural instinct is to refer business to people who we know, like, and trust. We support their work, and we want to see them succeed. Yes it's sweet when they acknowledge these referrals, but most of us aren't doing it for the kudos - we just want to be helpful.
There's no great secret to increasing referrals in your business, but there are a few helpful tips:
Do great work
This one is of course a no-brainer, or at least it should be, but I do believe that it's directly tied to the referrals that you get.
If you're short-changing a client, withholding your energy or focus, or shoddy at communication, they'll remember their experience working with you. Great work is not just about the end product, but about the process as well. Their client experience from start to finish is what really leaves an impression.
Ask for referrals!
This might be the most difficult one of all for some business owners. Whether it's shyness, modesty, or just a discomfort with being taken the wrong way, most people are uncomfortable asking for what they want.
Referrals may come naturally, but they won't always. The harder truth is that while you're too shy to ask for them, your colleagues have no hesitation, and may even be doing so quite boldly.
Think about ways to encourage referrals in your business. Are you consciously asking for referrals after you've completed working with a customer or client? Are you asking for them to leave reviews on search engines or social media?
Your clients want to help you succeed, but they'll be even more inclined to do so if they know what you're looking for.
Acknowledge those who lift you up
Lastly, when someone does refer work your way, take the extra time to thank them for their support and their trust in you.
There may be creative ways to do this depending on your industry, such as a rewards program or some sort of referral bonus. You may be able to discount future work for someone, or send gifts or tokens of appreciation if the referral is sizeable.
Yet even if this is not common practice in your industry (or prohibited by professional regulations), a card/email/phone call will go a long way. It shows that referrer not only how much you appreciate your confidence, but reminds them that the person they have entrusted to you is in good hands.
As we head into Spring and the world cautiously continues to re-open, we're all working on rebuilding those connections that have been so difficult to maintain the past two years.
Think about how you'll be using those connections to encourage referrals in your business. Remember that existing clients, and those that they refer, need to know three key things:
Who you are
What you do
How you can help
If you need help sharing that story, let's find a time to connect.