How To Give Referrals in 8 Actionable Steps

Today I planned to write about How To Create A Referral Program Your Clients Will Love.

So, I did what I always do and started with web and keyword research. Well.annaHandShake

It is not easy to find posts and articles about providing referrals. Nope. When you search using that term, you get pages and pages about how to get referrals.

Eventually, I hit upon the search term “how to give referrals,” but found, using the Google Keyword Tool, that, globally, only 390 people searched this term within the last month!

What this means is two things:
-I will not get rich from writing this article and
-Businesses that provide great referrals will stand out in the crowd

What Is a Great Referral?
The people you refer should be:
1. Totally reliable
2. Top quality and
3. Excellent customer service providers
In short, you recommend them because they rock as hard as you do.

What’s In It For Clients?
Your clients will thank you for going through the hassle of finding not one, but at least three, awesome providers of any given skill or service. Let’s face it, finding people who are reliable, responsive and easy to work with is, while not exactly like finding a needle in a haystack, no walk in the park on a sunny day, either.

So. I went through this because one of my personal business mottoes is, “I do the heavy lifting so you don’t have to.” I decided I would like to offer my clients pre-screened IT people, editors, videographers, graphic designers and more.

I envisioned saving my clients distracting legwork while building relationships with creatives and other professionals because you never know what kinds of inspiring projects might result from relationships like these.

Well, friends, this has turned out to be way easier said than done.

Because I have a client who will need one soon, I started with graphic designers. You would think that, in a town like San Francisco, in which most of the people who aren’t yoga teachers are graphic designers, people would fall over themselves to return a call offering them potential work. But no.

I started by calling people I knew, even. Now, they say this is a down economy and people are hungry for work, and I’m sure it’s true. However. A full two thirds of the people I called did not return my calls at all while another almost third said they would get back to me with emails of work samples or references, and none have — so far!

Finally, one person called me back, after about 5 days, apologizing for the delay and giving me a better phone number with which to reach her.

Now I know, quite intimately, that a good referral is hard to find! So, I will continue with my heavy lifting until I feel satisfied I have a great corps of dependable, high quality referrals I can share with my clients.

What’s In It For You?
Okay. So the clients are getting top quality, reliable service providers with excellent customer service. They don’t have to slog through Yelp looking for this. They trust you, so they can enjoy going straight to the source, interviewing three great people and getting their project done swiftly and smoothly. Okay — not exactly the Apple “under promise and over deliver” strategy, I know. But still. I think you can be sure that your clients — potential and actual — will be quite grateful for your work.

Now what do you get?
You get to, according to Fire Pole Marketing, do these five things:

      1. Create expert status and trust
      2. Increase your value to your customers
      3. Create business relationships
      4. Be remembered as a source of quality referrals and
    5. Get your best customers

That last benefit may not be intuitive, but it does kind of make sense. Once you have positioned yourself as sincerely hardworking and generous, potential customers will be more likely to come to you when they need your specific talents and expertise.

In other words, it’s a win-win. I hope you will take this idea and run with it.

How to Give Referrals in 8 Actionable Steps
Here are 8 actionable steps to get you started on how to give referrals:

      -Make a list of every field of expertise you want to share with your clients
      -Pop the list into a spreadsheet (I love spreadsheets!)
      -Make a schedule, planning to hit one field of expertise at a time
      -Ideally, you would work with each of these professionals yourself, so you would have your own experience to share and absolute confidence in their reliability and quality
      -Now, look through your contacts to remind yourself who you already know
      -Contact them and let them know what you are trying to do (in theory, they should be grateful and excited!)
        -If you haven’t worked with a given professional personally, be sure to call their references and

Be patient and persistent. You may need to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince(s), but the results are worth it!
I think it is easy to see that by going through these steps yourself, you have the potential to save your clients a lot of time and energy. If you get discouraged, consider these efforts a long term investment in how your reputation is perceived, your dedication to customer service and how you are positioned in your field.

Your Turn
Oh, and by the way, if you know of a top quality professional in any of the following fields, especially those located in San Francisco or Paris:

      -Graphic design & typography
      -Logos & branding
      -Marketing & customer service based web design
      -Web programming
      -Professional editing services
      -Event planners
    -Information technology assistance

Please let me know either in the comments section or via email.

About Anna

Anna is a Contributing Editor at Project Eve as well as a solopreneur and the founder of  ANNACOLIBRI, an e-business specializing in values-based marketing, online publishing and web-presence. She knows and loves writing about content marketing (with an emphasis on values-based marketing), web presence, solopreneurship, alternative healthcare, spirituality/yoga, (single) parenting and topics related to older adults.  Community building is also an important to her; she is a founding member of the San Francisco Eves. She believes some of her best ideas grow out of offline conversations. If you have story ideas or tips, please e-mail her at: [email protected] You can also follow her on Twitter at:

Citations For How to Give Referrals
Sandeen, Peter. 5 Reasons Why You Should Give Referrals: How it Creates the Best Leads You’ve Ever Had. January 13, 2012

Nakagawa, Tatsuya. The Golden Rule of Referrals: Learn to Give a Perfect Referral. March 30, ??


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