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15 Ways to Get Referrals for Your Consulting Business

By Michael Zipursky

As our survey on Marketing for Consultants (newest survey here) revealed referrals is still the top source of new clients for most consultants.

Getting consulting referrals doesn’t always happen by itself.

The consultants that get the most referrals have a system and process they follow that works for them.

With that said I thought I’d share a collection of 15 different ways you can ask for and get referrals.

Here they are:

“I’m so pleased you’re happy with my work. Do you know anyone else who can benefit from my services?”

“We’ve found the best way to get referrals is to have a web form that all our clients see after purchasing and we can also send this out through follow up email. This allows clients to provide us referrals quickly and easily.”

“Who are one or two people you know that I should meet?”
Source: Jill Konrath

“As you think about the other department managers in your organization, does one come to mind that has mentioned, or that you’ve noticed, is experiencing [insert similar symptoms] as you were?”
Source: Inc

“You mentioned you belong to the local chapter of [insert professional association].  When you think about some of the people who have operations similar to yours, do you recall anyone mentioning [insert similar symptoms]?”
Source: Inc

“If you know of any other companies who are having a rough time finding good work, feel free to pass on my name. Actually, if you have a few names in mind, I could just drop them a line myself and save you the trouble.”
Source: Freelance Folder

“Top advisers are increasingly using event marketing…But these aren’t your typical retirement-planning seminars in a hotel conference room. Instead, think wine tastings, chef’s dinners and advanced seminars. The events don’t need to cost a lot, but they need to be fun, creative and target the high net-worth clients you’re seeking.”
Source: WSJ

“You mentioned that your father is retiring soon and that he’s been worrying about what’s going to happen with his company’s pension plan.  I have helped a number of clients who have also retired from XYZ Corporation over the past few years, and I think may be able to answer some of his questions and put his mind at ease.  Would you like to talk to him about setting up a time for the three of us to get together?”
Source: Automatic Referrals

“Are any of your friends in a similar situation as you? Would you feel comfortable making a personal introduction?”

“Thanks for saying you’re pleased; it’s wonderful to be appreciated. If you have someone in mind I would be a good fit for, it would be great if you could make a personal introduction.”

As we move forward, it’s common for me to request referrals from my client partners, since that is the source of most of my business. I hope you’ll consider agreeing to do that when the time is right.
Source: Contrarian Consulting

When the project began, I mentioned the potential of referrals from you to people who might also benefit from this value. While it may be premature to approach them, it’s probably a good time to understand who they may be.
Source: Contrarian Consulting

“I’d like to meet [name] in your office, because I think he’d be a good fit for our product. Could you help me with an introduction?”
Source: Consulting Society

“As an  ________  my business depends on referrals. It’s my goal to exceed your expectations so that you are comfortable referring your friends and family to me.”
Source: KJ Prince

“I’m delighted that I’ve been able to serve you. I am wondering about others you might know in your life who would also benefit from my service. Could we explore for a few minutes who else we might be able to serve?”
Source:a Realty Times

What do you think? Can you benefit from any of these ideas?

Do you have any referral ideas and strategies you can add? Please share them in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “15 Ways to Get Referrals for Your Consulting Business

  1. Thanks for sharing these points. I totally agree with you that the best way to get clients for your business is to be courteous in your approach. Loved your points!

  2. Great compilation of ideas, Michael. Will definitely try some of these out.

  3. IT Consulting Small Business says:

    Thanks for good information sharing.

  4. Virginia Nicols says:

    Here’s the trick we try to keep in mind: Only ask for referrals from people who have been PROFITABLE clients — not necessarily those you like the best or who like you the best! If not, you’ll get more of the unprofitable ones!

    • Exactly. Important point Virginia. It starts with finding your ideal clients and then working to get more of them.

  5. Impressive compilation, well done! What struck me here is the advice about event marketing that it is better to host it similar to wine tasting events and make it more interesting and fun for your prospects. Do not ever underestimate the power of word of mouth. Give content, share and have fun first the rest will follow.

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