Building Your Referral Network

shutterstock_88099609Referrals are a vital part of any successful business. If your satisfied customers  are talking to their networks about what makes your business awesome, those prospects are going to come to your business with a certain level of faith and trust in your credibility. Of course, if you want your customers to send their friends and family members your way, you have to ask. When was the last time you asked those people if they knew anyone who would benefit from your services? And did you turn that referral into a satisfied customer? If you struggle with building referrals, here are a few simple steps to put you on the right track:

You have to ask.

Once you’ve completed providing services to your client, make a short follow-up call. This is a perfect opportunity to solicit feedback from your client and, if they were satisfied with the work you did, it’s OK to ask them if they know anyone else who may be interested in what you have to offer. Explain to them that referrals are important to the success of your business and ensuring you can offer services in the future. Just be careful NOT to pressure your client. You can’t force them into offering you a referral and, if you make them uncomfortable, you could lose future business.

If a follow-up call isn’t your style, you can also ask for referrals through customer feedback or satisfaction surveys, messages on invoices, customer letters, the signature line for customer emails and on your website.

What’s next?

If a client gives you a referral, don’t stop there. Take time to thank your customer and reward them for helping you build your business. Building a strong relationship with your referral sources means more referrals and more success! Not sure how to show your appreciation? You can start with a thank you letter or hand-written note. If you’re able, customers are also often motivated by cash rewards, gift cards, free additional services, etc.

Clients? Check. Who else though?

Customers are great referral sources, but they aren’t the only ones who understand how awesome you and your business are! Consider who else can advocate for your business and don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Who should be happy to share their networks with you? Friends, family members, vendors, suppliers and strategic alliances are all good places to start.

Regardless of who you ask, make sure to educate them about what you do and engage them in building your business. It’s important to take the time to talk to any potential advocates about your services and what you offer to your customers. Explain how you help them and how you can help others by explaining the problems you solve and what sets you apart!

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