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How to Get Referrals

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I’m a coach and I help coaches and other professionals market their services. Referrals are my lifeblood. Here’s what I’ve learned about them.

1. Ask for them outright.
Explain what you do and say you’d like referrals. That’s all you have to do. Ah, but … What if I were to ask you right here and now to refer clients to me. “I’m a personal and professional growth coach. I’d like you to refer your chiropractic patients to me. Here’s my bio. Would you do it? Of course not. Your whole chiropractic practice is built on how your patients perceive you, and if you refer them to an idiot, it reflects on you. Your practice is too important to refer to someone you don’t know.

2. You have to do the courtship before you pop the question.
It takes time. First you have to build your reputation carefully by providing excellent service. When you’re good at what you do, and know it, asking for referrals is second nature. Occasions will arise where it’s the natural thing to do, i.e., “You know, I could help Frederic with that. That’s exactly what I do. Why don’t you have him call me?” You have to let the other person get to know you enough to trust you.

3. Create an atmosphere where referrals can occur. People refer people to people they like and trust.
This means getting out and about, talking with respect about what you do, and letting other people see who you are. Join the Chamber, go to seminars, Rotary, work out at the health spa, but not as social events. When you’re in a profession, you ARE the product. Conduct yourself as a professional with this in mind. Be who you are when you’re out, but be the professional who you are.

4. Basically you aren’t going to get them until you don’t need them.
That’s one of those things in life. If you’re desperate for clients (or anything else), you’ll drive it away. People can sense it. I was helping someone write a grant and their reason was “because we’re desperate for money.” That’s a reason why they want the money; it isn’t a reason why someone should give it to them. The same applies for referrals.

5. What’s in it for me?
It’s not about you. There are a few good-hearted souls who just go about helping other people, but not many. Everyone else is thinking of the benefits, risks, and repercussions. If someone refers someone to you, what will they get?

6. What could they get?
Here’s something I got when I referred a client to another coach for a service I don’t provide: the client I referred was treated so wonderfully, I received rave e-mail for days from the client. It strengthened my credibility and relationship with my client, who then went on to refer others to me.

7. Here’s something else I could possibly get.
You know how the new hairdresser asks you who on earth cut your hair that way? Never badmouth the person who refers. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. If they aren’t good, you shouldn’t be referring with them. If they are good, say so. Don’t try to steal their client. Use your emotional intelligence and stay in the loop.

8. To get referrals, give referrals.
That’s how I got started. I have a free drawing on my website and there’s only one winner a month. I refer the ones who don’t win to coaches who need pro bono clients to work with. In that way I build relationships with others who’re in a position to refer to me somewhere down the line.

9. Premiums, reciprocal arrangements, referral fees.
Do whatever is ethical in your field. If you can use them, do.

Support possible referral sources in their endeavors–donate a door prize for the seminar they’re giving, offer to invite some of your clients to it, do a joint-presentation.

10. Strike while the iron is hot. A good time to ask for referrals is right after you’ve delivered a good product or service.

11. Carry backup materials with you at all times–business cards, flyers, and brochures that describe all the things you do and give contact information.

12. Explain, with patience.
One major problem is few of us understand fully what another person outside our field does, and your major task it to find ways to bring up the range of things that you can do for someone. To do this properly you need time with the other person. Therefore build a relationship so you’ll be around them enough to do that.

When someone refers someone to you, it isn’t over, it’s just begun. When someone refers a client to me, within the bounds of confidentiality, I keep the referring person informed. I write or call them to say the contact has been made and that I appreciate the referral. I inform them of stages in the process, with the client’s permission. I let people who refer others to me know how much I appreciate it. I always call them and ask them if their client/friend/spouse/business partner was pleased with my services. I ask them for more referrals.

Done right it’s a slow process of integrity and good services. It can easily take a year for someone else to feel confident in referring someone to you. It builds slowly but once it reaches the tipping point, it’s exponential.

Be sure to let other people know when you’ve referred people to them, because the contact is not always made. I call the other person or email them and let them know I’ve referred so-and-so to them.

One way you can hone your skills at making these connections is to work with a coach.

There’s an art to getting referrals that’s well worth cultivating.

Susan Dunn, MA, Marketing Coach,
http://www.webstrategies.cc. Marketing consultation,
implementation, website review, SEO optimization, article
writing and submission, help with ebooks and other
strategies. Susan is the author or How to Write an eBook
and Market It on the Internet. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc
for information and free ezine. Specify Checklist.

How to Get Referrals
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About Susan Dunn
Susan Dunn, MA, Marketing Coach, http://www.webstrategies.cc. Marketing consultation, implementation, website review, SEO optimization, article writing and submission, help with ebooks and other strategies. Susan is the author or How to Write an eBook and Market It on the Internet. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for information and free ezine. Specify Checklist. WebProNews Writer
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