Any good business requires new clients. Existing and returning clients are great but you need new people from time to time.
However, when people talk about new clients, they don’t think about referrals most of time, because they take them for granted. Sometimes, they really come without efforts but you could get quite more of them.
Not only that, but referrals are usually much better than other types of new clients.
They come already half convinced to work with you. You can also get more information about them from the people that referred you, thus improving your chances of closing the deal.
Moreover once they see how good you are, it will be very easy for them to refer you to someone else, because they have been in the same situation.
They are actually the best type of new clients, but at the same time freelancers and consultants rarely make the effort to get more of them.
Nobody asks or answers the following questions:
- Where do referrals come from?
- How do you make people referrer you?
What if I tell you that there is a process to get more referrals which when applied will pay in time?
Where do referrals come from?
Referrals come from two type of clients. Your past clients and people who know you but who have never worked with you.
Past clients are very clear who they are. Where as people who know you are mainly your friends and family.
Why are you being referred?
To learn how to be referred more often, you need to understand why people do it.
Past clients do it because they you solved a painful problem for them. They often know other people and companies with similar problems and are happy to refer you.
With friends and family it is a little bit different. They can only refer you if they know what you are doing. They are referring you because people they know have problems which you solve.
All this may sound very obvious but many freelancers often miss it. You wouldn’t believe me if I tell you how many people actually don’t share much with friends and family what they are doing, and when they do, they do it in very vague terms with few details.
They tend to think that most of their friends and families would not understand them. Which of course depends on how you describe what you do.
To encourage past clients to refer you to other people here are a few things that you can apply immediately.
Deliver what you promised
You should deliver results. If you don’t solve the problem they have, no matter how nice they are, they will never refer you to anybody.
Keep in touch every now and then
People forget and new things come in their minds. So you have to be hot in their mind.
It’s easy. You just need to send a few emails each year, like every new year you can give them good wishes. If you know of other significant dates for them like birthdays for example, send them an email or a even a hand written post card.
Very few people actually do this, but it is away to be different and to be always on the mind of your past clients.
You don’t need to send them letters every day. A few times a year is all it takes.
Even when there is no special day, you can always ask them how they are doing and how business is going.
Everybody on earth loves talking about themselves and their business and the more they talk and write to you, the more they more likely it will be that when the time comes they will refer you.
If you’ve worked with someone, you know their wants, needs and problems. You can share from time to time small tips which will help them even more.
This will not only help you get recurring work, but it can also help you get referred.
You will become even a bigger expert in their eyes.
You can see that in everything I talked, you never had to ask directly. You could of course, but if you do any of the above, you will be always hot on their mind and when their is an opportunity to refer you, they will take it.
Friends & Family
Some people are really shy to share what they work with their friends and even more with their family. Maybe they fear that they will not understand them or maybe that they will want something in return.
Most of the time they are just losing opportunities to find more and better clients. There is always a way to explain what problems you solve.
Share with the people around you what work you’ve done. Even if it is not work for past clients but work for yourself it is still something which can attract clients.
If you don’t have projects, just choose something that is interesting and do it for yourself.
It will not only be a great learning experience, but then you will be able to share it with your friends and family who in turn can share with other people and refer you.
Then people with similar problems will come back to you for help and profit. Profit for you.
Does it really work?
Yes, it does. All I’ve shared with you has done wonders for our company. Let’s look at a few examples. I will start backwards.
Initially we didn’t have any projects. So we create a mobile application Tasks to manage our todos. We told our friends and family and some of them even installed it.
This simple app than attracted so many clients and we did many more mobile applications for them for different platforms.
Some of these applications and also Tasks, required a web based backend or a web based versions. So we did that too and we told our friends and family again.
As a result even more work cam our way, but this time it was web development and it was even better paid.
Sharing with friends and family works amazingly well.
What about past clients?
We keep in contact with all our past clients. We send them emails on all significant dates that we know about and they are always very impressed.
We also share with them when we find something which can be useful.
We also ask them how they are, what they are doing now and how their business is doing.
All of this has provided us with a lot of recurring work and also with a lot of referrals.
You can start with the easiest and smallest step. Send emails to your past clients to ask them how they are doing.
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