How to Get Client Referrals

By MBO Partners | June 22, 2021

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When potential clients hear about your qualifications directly from people they know and trust, it lends credibility to your reputation. Word-of-mouth can be a powerful marketing tool for independent contractors. However, there’s an art to asking for and receiving referrals.

Follow these five tactics to go about getting client referrals and recommendations in the right way.

1. Demonstrate Your Value

Before you ask for a recommendation, impress a client with your talent, skills, and professionalism. Some independent professionals ask for referrals shortly after landing a new client. Unfortunately, this method can often come across as pushy or presumptuous—personality traits that don’t make for a good first impression. Your client will feel much more comfortable recommending your work once they have concrete, positive feedback they can share with their contacts.

2. Wait for the Right Time

When it comes to relationship management, timing is key. Asking for a favor at an inappropriate moment, such as when you hand your client a bill, can lower the chances of them following through with your request. If a client comments on how well the project is going and how pleased they are with the results, this could be the perfect opportunity to thank them for the compliment and mention that any recommendations would be appreciated. On the other hand, if you’ve fallen behind on a deadline or hit a snag in the project, wait to ask for a referral until you’ve resolved the problem.

3. Consider What Incentives You Have to Offer

If your business provides a service that is likely to create repeat clients, offering incentives in exchange for putting in a good word can be an excellent motivator. Incentives could include a discount or credit for each successful referral a client sends your way. Expanding your network is typically well worth the cost of discounting services for a repeat client.

4. Say Thank You

Appreciation can go a long way towards maintaining a strong relationship. If you receive an endorsement from a current or former client, take the time to send a hand-written thank you note. Doing so lets them know you appreciate their actions, and they may be more likely to recommend your services in the future.

5. Recommend in Return

The direct approach of asking clients for recommendations can be extremely effective, but it’s not the only method. Proactively sending referrals or leaving detailed reviews for your clients can be motivation for them to return the favor. If you don’t have specific contacts for referrals, leaving a positive endorsement on social media sites such as LinkedIn or Yelp can have a similar effect.


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