10 Ways To Get More Referrals

Thanks to very helpful analytics in Aweber and Facebook, I know that quite a lot of you Freelance To Freedom seekers are from my homeland, the US. Which means today, I hope that you will not be reading this, but rather slaving in the kitchen with friends or family and stuffing your face with some weird traditions.

But instead of crying in a corner because I don’t get to eat pumpkin pie today (yes I’ve tried, French pumpkins just aren’t the same) or hang out with my awesome family, I thought I’d share some Thanksgiving inspired business tips.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I thought it would be fitting to talk about giving thanks on this fine Thursday in November. Specifically, how to show gratitude to clients in order to guarantee a thriving referral business (because those are the best kind)!

Here are 10 ideas to get your brain into gratitude mode and actively grow your referral business: 

Send a Thank You Card With Each Project

This is the most obvious of course, but the simplest and easiest to do. Buy a set of cards to have on hand, or better yet, have some made with your branding on a site like Moo.com. Since I live in a different country than the majority of my clients, I like to send a French postcard- just for the novelty of it. You can send this at the start of the project talking about how you are excited to work with them, or at the end- it’s up to you!

Send a Thank You Card for Any Referral They’ve Sent You

Tell them how much you enjoyed the client they sent your way and how much you appreciate them for making it happen. When they feel appreciated, they will likely want to continue sending more.

Give Them an Extra Surprise

I talk about treating your clients like royalty in my free ebook (if you haven’t read it, download it here). One of the ways I mention to go above & beyond is to give them more than what they are expecting from you. This can be done both during the actual project, but also at the end.

Think of something you do that may not be included in their current project or that is included in a more expensive package. In web design it could be an extra premium plugin, in copywriting it could be extra copy (tagline ideas or optin copy ideas), in graphic design- an facebook timeline image….to name just a few. Or maybe a copy of your latest ebook or guide?

Engage in Their Work

Show you care about them more than just the work they brought you. Read & comment on their blog, back them on kickstarter, join their cause, give them feedback when they launch something new or…

Promote Them on Social Media

Post about their project on Facebook, tweet about them, link to their blog posts, etc. Social media is such an important part of promotion, and helping spread the word about their work is a great way to show appreciation for the business they’ve brought to you.

Refer People to Them

This goes along with promoting and engaging in their work- but you can take it a step further. When you see people looking for services your past clients provide, be sure and speak up about them. You can do this with friends & family, and also in Facebook groups or on Twitter.

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Follow-Up & Keep in Touch

Put a reminder in your calendar 3, 6, or 12 months out and send them an email. Ask how things are going, if they have had any issues with your work, if there is anything you can help them with, and more importantly, just a general hello! Stay on top of their mind and show that the relationship doesn’t end the moment the project is finished.

Be Useful

Keep them on your mind when strolling around the internet and send them any articles or advice that may be of use to them. It could be the latest tactic to help them market their business, a new app you think they’ll love, or just a funny comic you think will give them a giggle.

Send Them a Holiday Gift or Card

I have a hard time even sending my family holiday gifts- it’s always too late and shipping from France takes foreeevver. But this is something I’d like to get better at. Everyone loves a gift, no matter how small. Be on the lookout for something small but meaningful your clients would enjoy.

Make Them First Priority on Future Projects

Give them exclusive early access to any discounts or specials you have. Let them be the first to know when you may be raising prices and offer them your old prices before anyone else. Invite them to beta test (for free) any course or ebook you come out with. Make sure they know that as previous clients, they are a bit more special than potential future clients.

The best referrals come naturally.

In slow periods, when you really need to bring in some more business,  I think it’s perfectly fine to straight up ask for referrals: Sending an email to past clients, letting them know that you are currently taking on new projects and asking if they know of anyone that could be in need of your services.

But if you are constantly giving, and actively using the tips above (or your own special sauce), those slow periods will become few and far between.

Like these ideas? Have any of your own?

Please share in the comments so we can help each other!

-Leah

Leah Kalamakis Leah Kalamakis is the founder of The Freelance To Freedom Project and a web designer/developer for brilliant entrepreneurs. When she’s not hanging out in the FTF Community, you can find her people watching on the streets of NYC. Come say hi on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • What a great list! I do freelance work but my primary business isn’t freelance. As I was reading your post, I was thinking about all of the ways these things could translate to other business models too. Thanks for the post!

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      Yes- totally applies to every kind of business! Glad you enjoyed it and thanks for the comment Jennifer!

  • I go out for meals occasionally with some of my best (local) clients 🙂 A great way to get to know them better and create a closer relationship.

    • Leah Kalamakis Leah

      I love that Ffion! Unfortunately I don’t have any local clients but would love to do that if I could! Great idea

  • Beautystyleandgrowth

    Really great tips. Works for other businesses too.
    K at http://www.beautystyleandgrowth.blogspot.com

  • Yes! Instead of sending my client a % of the referral, I put together a thank-you package of local items. It feels more thoughtful and genuine than cash, and it often means more to the referral than cash would, too!

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