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How To Get Business Referrals

Ask four of your colleagues how they get new business and odds are you’ll hear at least three of them say “referrals.” Where do referrals come from? Probably a variety of sources: existing clients, friends, business relationships, and networking, to name a few.

Make It Easy To Get Recommended

Now think about the people you refer to others. What is it that makes it easy for you to recommend their products or services? If you were to make a list of the reasons, you’d be off to a good start for learning how to get them for yourself.
I’m always looking for referrals so I’ll go first. I refer people who are:
  • dependable
  • professional
  • trustworthy
  • honest and honorable
  • …and who I like.
For example, I have a colleague who takes care of my IT needs. He meets all of the above qualifications and then some. I refer him to people that need IT help because I know that he is really good. He’s proven that in the three years he’s worked for me. Plus, he’s a member of my chamber of commerce and I like referring fellow members. One more thing—he’s super nice, and I like referring nice people.
Now what about how to get those business referrals? Here are some tips that have worked for me—and 90% of my business comes from referrals.

Top Ways To Get Referrals

1. Network
Network online—using social networking tools like Facebook or LinkedIn. And offline—at networking events, professional meetings, outings, etc. People need to get to know you if they are to refer your services. And while I’m a huge fan of social networking online, I like meeting face-to-face at some point.
If you’re not comfortable networking alone, look into joining a leads group. These are generally based upon sharing referrals with one another, and most major cities have them.
2. Ask
Too many people don’t. Whether it’s fear of looking like business is bad or that you might be turned down, you could be missing a lots of referrals if you don’t ask. It can be as simple as saying to a client “If you’re happy with my services, I’d love any referrals you might be able to give me.”
The same applies to colleagues and friends. Let them know you’re looking for more work. They may think you’re so busy that you don’t need any. If you feel better giving something in return, you can offer colleagues a referral fee and clients a freebie of some sort—$100 off the next project you do for them or a free hour of consulting.
3. Write articles
While this is a more roundabout way to get referrals than networking, writing articles and submitting them to online article sites like, trade publications or other sites helps get your name out. You should also post articles on your website or LinkedIn profile.
How do articles generate referrals? It only takes one person to read your article, like it enough to dig up some info on you and refer you to a colleague who might need your services. In fact, this article you’re reading came from a comment I made to a question in a LinkedIn group.
4. Arrange speaking engagements
Chambers of Commerce, neighborhood organizations, industry associations—all of these groups have professionals come in and speak at lunches, breakfasts and meetings. It gives you a chance to share your expertise and lets people in the audience get to know you. It’s also a lot of fun (assuming you like to speak).
5. Volunteer or do pro bono work
Volunteering in your community is a terrific way to meet people. And it’s a “win-win” as well. You’re not only helping an organization (a school, a shelter, a needy children’s program, etc.), you’re building relationships with others in your community.
You don’t have to run out and do all of these at once. Pick one or two things to work on and see how it goes. Just remember the part about being nice. People really do like doing business with people they like.
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This article is the journalistic / web equivalent of an old man sitting on his porch with a shotgun full of rock salt, telling those damned kids to get the hell off of his lawn.

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