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You’d think, wouldn’t you, that if you do a good job for someone then they would tell everyone how good you are? A common myth about getting referrals is that if you do a good job for your customers, referrals will come automatically. Hmm, wouldn’t that be lovely? And it can happen, but it doesn’t, not very often anyway and rarely without a plan! Getting referrals takes effort, above and beyond just doing a good job but if you get it right, you will have a great source of new business in no time. Getting more referrals needs a consistent, sustained approach that becomes part of doing business, without thinking about it.

So what can you do to start building your referrals machine?

1. Make Friends With Your Competitors

Yes, that’s right! And offer to help with their overload. However strange this may seem, it was one of the things that kept me in business in the early days. Other marketing consultants in the area were overstretched and had smaller clients who they didn’t want to let go, but couldn’t service effectively so they needed someone trustworthy to outsource to. I positioned myself as someone trustworthy, who was perfect for outsourcing to and I often got the business. I was up front about being happy to sign a non-disclosure and terms of work so that they knew I wasn’t going to court their clients; I was happy to work under their brand while dealing with their work – I wasn’t precious about it. I just wanted to ensure that I got enough work in to cover the bills and this was a key part of my income for a good few years. It meant that I didn’t need to spend time looking for clients, and could therefore spend time on my own development, building my coaching business at the same time.

2. Niche And Become An Expert

You’ll hear me talk about niching and becoming an expert in virtually everything I teach because it’s a marketing strategy that works brilliantly for almost every business. If you do this and you position yourself as the expert in X or Y, then people will find it easy to refer you. You need a coach who specialises in helping women business owners get unstuck and grow their business? Go talk to Claire Mitchell, that’s just what she does. You want someone who is an expert at photographing horses? Creating bespoke Christening jewellery? Creating diets for gluten intolerant children? Do you see? It’s easy to refer someone if they have a specific niche or speciality.

3. Refer other people.

Start doing what you would like to have done for you. If you are in marketing and you can refer business to a accountant, then she’ll probably return the favour; If you’re a photographer and you refer people to a makeup artist or vintage car hire company, then the odds are that they will refer back. I think that it’s important to do this in good faith, however, and if you can, with no expectation of a returned favour. I know that sounds odd but it’s much more of a energetically positive transaction if you can genuinely refer people to other suppliers that you really rate, rather than because you want them to owe you. If you do this in good faith then people will do the same to you. It’s easy to spot those who are racking up the brownie points they are owed and there’s nothing worse than feeling beholden. So there’s something to think about – can you use any of these three tactics to set your referral machine in motion? Go get ’em, tiger – I expect great things of you xx

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