In today’s hyper-competitive global market it can be easy to forget about the one thing that matters most – not your fancy website, LinkedIn profile or even your Google page rank. Word-of-mouth is more important and more effective than any of those. When a potential client gets referred to you by someone they trust, the likelihood of you getting that job or project skyrockets.
Personal recommendations from people you know are very powerful – it’s one of the reasons behind the success of social networks like Facebook and Twitter. With that in mind, you might want to start looking actively for referrals as a freelancer. Here’s how:
1) Referrals are like trust – they have to be earned
Before we get into the part where you actively ask for referrals, there is one thing you shouldn’t forget. You don’t ask somebody for trust if they don’t know you. You have to show them you deserve that trust. It’s the same thing with referrals. Don’t try to convince clients how much you deserve to be referred to their best friends and colleagues if you haven’t proven it to them. So how can you prove it?
Work hard and do your best. Earn your client’s appreciation by being professional and delivering high-quality work. And if you really hit it off, clients themselves will want to tell the story of your working relationship to others – making it so that, sometimes, you won’t even have to ask for to be referred.
2) Asking the right way
You can’t always impress clients so much that they will want to go out there and scream about how great you are to the world. Sometimes you’ll have to give them a little nudge. And if they were pleased with your work, they will react positively to it.
Here’s the mindset you’ll want to have when asking about referrals:
You’re not begging or looking for something you don’t deserve. You want to help your client and, as a result, people they know, get a good service for their money. You are available, do great work and have proven that.
Explain to your client that word-of-mouth is very effective in today’s world and give them the opportunity to do some good for their network.
3) Offering rewards
Rewards are another little nudge you can use when looking for referrals. They can be a bit tricky, however. The line between essentially bribing somebody to give you a referral and showing your appreciation can feel very thin. A way to avoid that is to make referring rewards small, but thoughtful – like sending your client a postcard or just a thankful email.
A discount from your services might be another possible reward. After all, if a client likes your product so much that they are willing to recommend it, they might be willing to use it again.
There are two advantages here:
1) your client gets rewarded that they gave you a referral and
2) they are now more likely to work with you in the future because of the discount.
4) Use your network to give back
To wrap up this article, here’s an unconventional piece of advice – referrals don’t just go one way. You can also help your client and your colleagues out. Essentially, this is the concept of networking.
If your client needs something that you cannot provide (because you lack the time or the skill in a particular field), refer them to a colleague of yours. Now you’ve shown the client you’re willing to use your network to help them out. They might be encouraged to do the same. And that goes for the fellow freelancers you recommend as well!
We already shared with you some reasons why other freelancers should be your allies instead of rivals!
Referrals can be great! So why don’t you help us spread some more freelancer knowledge by liking or sharing this article on social media? And if you have any questions, you’re more than welcome to ask them in the comment section below this article.