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Referrals

7 Effective Ways to Initiate and Cultivate Business Referrals

The is no better marketing than the praise of someone happy they paid for your work.
7 Effective Ways to Initiate and Cultivate Business Referrals
Image credit: filadendron | Getty Images
Contributor
Psychologist, Author, Speaker
7 min read

Referral relationships are some of the most lucrative and secure in any business. To acquire these connections, our business must have something of substantial value to offer others. It is imperative that we believe in what we do wholeheartedly. When people sense we’re totally excited and passionate about what we have to offer, they become excited and interested as well. Our passion makes us more confident in getting ourselves out there to make ourselves known to those who have a vested need in what we offer. The easiest way to establish a solid referral business is to make sure our current customers or clients feel important and well taken care of when working with us.

1. Networking and/or joining one of the meetup groups.

When looking to increase our referral base, we must find effective ways to get our name out there. Online resources such as LinkedIn, Facebook, the NextDoor app, and other modes of advertising help familiarize others with our face, name and the service we offer. Meetup groups and networking groups are also excellent resources to get us in front of people. It is crucial from the start of any new business relationship, that we establish it to be reciprocal. We must be prepared to ask how we can refer business to others as well. These types of networking groups are sometimes the places we meet and create our more lucrative and enduring connections.

Related: 25 Ways to Ask for a Referral Without Looking Desperate

2. Invest yourself.

All successful relationships require we invest our time, energy and effort into them. If we don’t develop solid and successful relationships, we cannot expect referrals. In a business relationship, this means we always consider the question “what is in it for me?” from the perspective of our potential clients or customers. We must make it our mission to discover what they need and want, so we have an idea of what it is going to take to satisfy them. Certain customers may require us to show we can deliver with consistency before they will consider offering anything in return. This means the investment we’re engaging in carries a level of risk. But, if we’re good at what we do, it will develop into an investment that offers the long-term return we’re looking for. This return makes the cost/benefit ratio worth it.

Related: 4 Steps to Getting More Referrals From Everyone You Meet

3. Deliver quality work.

High quality work, service and effort are critical when securing referrals. When we love what we do, delivering high quality work comes naturally, and going the extra mile is not considered a sacrifice. Quality work isn’t just centered around the service or product we sell, but also through the appreciation we show our customers or clients. We show our appreciation through flexibility in scheduling times, we are more relaxed with allocated time, and even offer small discounts when it best serves the relationship at hand. It is also important to accept that clients, in many ways are more knowledgeable than we are, and will be able see through our ability and working style. For this reason, it’s always best to be transparent. Clients don’t expect us to know everything, but if they see that we and our team are working hard, they come to appreciate and count on us even when we fall short. It is our job to deliver what we say we will deliver and to answer all client questions.

Related: How Finder's Fees Can Be a Catalyst for Business Growth

4. Word of mouth.

The higher the quality of work we produce with consistency, and the more open and willing we are to hear, give and receive feedback with the clientele we work with, the easier it is to develop mutually beneficial relationships. When it comes to people referring business our way based on word-of-mouth, trust and a positive working experience with us are essential. If we have a client who trusts us enough to do business with us and they see the value in what we do, they’ll refer people our way. It’s of great benefit to offer our more satisfied customers a discount off of their next project for each referral pushed our way. This makes our reciprocal relationships even more lucrative, as our satisfied customers essentially build our business for us.

Related: Sell While You Sleep With These 5 Proven Strategies for Getting Customer Reviews That Close Sales

5. Become an expert in your field.

Being an expert in our field of work is imperative to the customers who are going to count on us to know what we’re doing and what the next steps will be going forward. Expertise is best established through our continued education and experience. Once we develop our expertise and have the experience necessary, our reputation will begin to speak highly of who we are and of the service we have to offer. This is when we can create a niche that is uniquely ours, as who we are and the integrity we hold becomes as important as the product we sell or service we offer  Another important part of being an expert is to be a good listener and note taker. When a new client or customer feels their needs and core values are truly understood, everything flows easily, and a healthy dialogue can be established in the long-term. When we make others feel important, they are more likely to refer us to others.

Related: How Online Customer Reviews Help SEO and Drive Sales Growth

6. Be of your word.

An important element to any beneficial healthy relationship is respect. To develop a vast referral base, we must treat others the way we would like to be treated. The purpose is to create a long-term relationship with our customer or client base, and we do this through always being ethical. We cannot be all words and no action. We have to be who we say we’re going go be. Sincerity is the highest form of respect. When we believe in our product or service, we must follow up asap, not days or weeks after we promised to do something. When we stay in touch and are honest with timelines, it builds the credibility of who we are. It must be our commitment to make our customers or clients an integral part of a good working experience by providing high quality, timely, thorough, consistent and ongoing communication, instead of treating our customers or clients as just another job or person with a need. When people feel cared for and respected, referrals are nearly guaranteed.

Related: 5 Proven Ways to Get More Customer Reviews On Google and Facebook

7. Give excellent customer service.

To acquire a deep referral base, we must always be driven to learn and grow in our given field of work. It is this desire that fuels the properties required to create the business growth we’re looking for. If we are learning all angles of our field, if we are helping customers or clients in every way we can, and display excellent customer service skills, we can create our own web of industry knowledge transfer. We want to be able to put what we know on display, so others can learn from us and we can learn from them. We want to become the person our customers and clients use as their main connection in our industry as a whole, not just within our company. We must passionately care about our clients or customers more than we care about the sale because we’re not just dealing with a sale, we working to secure an enduring, productive and lucrative relationship. It is important to reach out to our customers occasionally to “just catch up,” and to make the time to stop in a few times per year. A little personal touch goes a long way.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Want More Customers? Get Quality Referrals From Existing Customers.