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Asking for Referrals: How It’s Really Done

By Michael Zipursky

Most consultants misunderstand the referral process.

You see, there are two kinds of referrals:

a) The ones you initiate;

b) The ones that come to you.

The vast majority of people think about referrals as the ones that come to you.

That’s fine if you’re business is well-established, you have a pipeline full of business and a busy schedule. If a referral comes to you and it’s a good fit, you accept it and follow it through.

However, if you’re just getting started or don’t have enough clients it’s unlikely you’ll be getting referrals that simply come to you.

If you want more clients you can’t sit back and wait for referrals to come to you.

It’s up to you to initiate those referrals.

How can you do that?

Here’s the secret sauce…

Make a list of all your friends and colleagues. Your past employers, clients and contacts.

Now one-by-one call them up and ask them for a referral.

Tell them what you’re doing, who you help and how you help them, and then ask them directly if they know anyone that you should speak with.

Offer them specific ideas to jog their memory so they can give you more recommendations.

Do they know any friends, business partners, clients…are they part of a club, networking group, or business organization.

Some people will tell you that this direct approach is too aggressive. What they don’t understand is that to launch your business and start filling the pipeline with clients you need to take action.

You can’t sit back.

You don’t have the luxury of waiting for referrals to come to you.

This approach is far more effective and easier to do than picking up the phone and cold-calling.

Have you been focusing on the referrals you initiate or the ones that come to you?

Referrals are great, yet they are just one way to get more clients. If you want to consistently attract your ideal clients find out how the most successful consultants are doing it here.

6 thoughts on “Asking for Referrals: How It’s Really Done

  1. Great article. I would also recommend that after you make that initial call that you send a note or card thanking them for taking the time to speak with them and gently reminding them that “Your referrals are warmly welcomed & greatly appreciated.” Then I would add similar wording to your signature lines, business cards, newsletter & website.

    • This idea reminds me of a quote that Ill scratch your back, you scratch mine. Overall its building relationship that matters.

  2. Richard says:

    This probably is more related to than a direct response to your post. If you expect to receive frequent referrals don’t forget you need to refer people to others. It needs to be a two way street and the more you refer people to other you might just find that street becomes an expressway.

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