Referrals are the lifeblood of every thriving business. They hold immense value, particularly for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and consultants, that often rely heavily on building strong relationships and networks. Harnessing the power of referrals can unlock exponential growth, yet the strategy often remains underutilized.
According to a Nielsen study, people are four times more likely to make a purchase when referred by a friend. This fact isn’t surprising when considering human nature. As social creatures, we tend to trust recommendations from those we know and respect. In fact, 92% of us put more faith in referrals from people we know, demonstrating the extraordinary persuasive power of personal testimonials.
However, the question remains – how do you actively seek and garner these high-value referrals? The process is far from complex, but it does require tact and strategic action.
Identifying and Asking for Referrals
LinkedIn, a networking platform filled with potential clients and mutual connections, is one of the easiest ways to find specific referrals. Searching for mutual connections can give you an insight into who might be a potential referral.
When asking for a referral, it’s crucial to approach the matter professionally and respectfully. A possible method is to first establish the connection’s relationship with the potential referral. For example, you could say, “I see you’re connected with (name). How well do you know them?” Pause and listen to their response attentively.
If they know the person well, you could explain, “The reason I ask is because I’d like to be able to see if (name) has the same challenges as you did and if I can help them like I helped you.” This showcases your desire to be helpful rather than simply seeking new business.
In the case they don’t know them well, steer the conversation towards a broader context. Ask, “Do you know anyone else in that company/position industry that I can talk to in order to see if they have the same challenges as you did and if I can help them like I helped you?”
Referrals and Introductions
Once you’ve identified a potential referral, the next step is to secure an introduction or name drop, further cementing trust and rapport. Leveraging mutual connections in this manner can open doors to new opportunities and partnerships.
Use the highest touch possible way to ask for these referrals. In person, a video call, or a telephone call or all far more effective ways than an email, though you should follow up with an email sharing how to best refer to you and who you’d like a referral to.
Integrating Referrals into Your Business
A successful referral strategy must be systematic and consistent. It’s essential to create a system for asking for and keeping track of referrals. Just as important is cultivating a habit of giving referrals. A proactive, reciprocal approach to referrals can not only drive your business forward but also contribute to a culture of shared success within your professional community.
Why Referrals Often Go Unutilized
Despite their enormous value, referrals are often underutilized due to two main reasons. First, many people simply don’t ask for referrals. Whether it’s due to fear of rejection or feeling that it’s self-serving, many fail to realize that referrals can be mutually beneficial.
Second, many people don’t give referrals. This could be due to a lack of a systemized process or simply an oversight. Remember, referrals are a two-way street. If you desire to receive them, you should also be willing and ready to give them.
Leveraging referrals can revolutionize your business growth, provided you approach it strategically. Be proactive, purposeful, and reciprocal in your referral strategy, and you will create a cycle of success that drives both your business and those in your network forward.
About the author: Phil Gerbyshak has been leading a six figure consulting, training and coaching business since 2008 and is the author of Zero Dollar Consultancy: How to Start Your Consulting Business with Little or No Money.