Last week, an architect in a workshop approached me. "I'm loving this program," he said. "You should work with some of our construction firm partners."
Two days later, I scheduled a meeting with the head of a large construction firm, a great prospect for usbased on a referral from that architect.
For those of you who want to learn to develop business, one of the easiest ways is to learn how to ask for referrals.
Step 1: Earn your clients' trust
To get referrals, you need to be referable. That means that you need to provide great value.
"In the business of referrals, trust is the most important reason a recommendation is made, and conversely, lack of trust the single greatest reason referrals don't happen," writes John Jantsch in his terrific book The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself.
We used a publicist several years ago to help market a book. But she didn't get us any meaningful publicity. When she sent an email asking for referrals, I deleted it.
Referrals rely on clients as marketing resources. If those clients aren't raving fans, you won't be successful.
Step 2: Ask when the client is most excited
Even if the client is happy, you can lose the chance to get a referral by waiting too long. I once tried to get a referral from a banking client six months after a successful program. He still loved us. But by that time, other projects had replaced the excitement.
The time to ask for the referral is when they're in the afterglow of a great experience. When that architect said he knew a construction firm that could use my services, I engaged him right then in a discussion of how he might help me connect with that person.
But there are other good times to ask. Whenever we finish an engagement, we schedule to get feedback on the workshop. Assuming that the client was happy with the program, we ask for a referral.