For some of us, the idea of asking for a referral conjures up the same feelings as networking. Feelings like “I wouldn’t touch that with a 10-foot pole” or “Please let there be another way to find clients.” Asking for a referral is scary as heck for an introvert like me. Sometimes you just have to put your big girl panties on and just do it!
But never fear. Just as there are many different types of personalities and business niches, there are many different ways to ask for a referral. You can tailor your referral system to match you and your unique business.
In the Referral Marketing Success Course, co-founder and instructor Craig Cannings discusses two types of referrals. Indirect and Direct. Indirect referrals include Facebook Page & LinkedIn Recommendations, Website Testimonials, and Video Case Studies. Direct referrals involve someone directly passing your name on to another relevant contact, either in person or through an email, phone call, or social media message.
THE VALUE OF A REFERRAL
Now, the question is, what is the reason? When broken down, the referral happens because of several things:
- The desire for a flexible lifestyle
- A strong work ethic
That sounds like a lot for someone to know about! But in the course of time, our existing clients can learn similar things about us. And our inner circle of friends and family (and even our acquaintances and colleagues) can know enough about us to recommend our services to wonderful clients.
In his article, “How to get more freelance clients by becoming ‘referable,’” Benek Lisefski says that the deeper reason to encourage referrals is that “referral clients trust you more.”
He describes the value of referrals this way:
“When that referral client comes to you, they come pre-loaded with trust. They already know you’re the person they want for the job before you’ve even tried to sell your virtues. Half of your trust-building has been done for you. Now all you have to do is meet or exceed that expectation.”
And when the referral client respects the person who referred you, even more of that trust will come pre-loaded. The quality of your referrals begins with the quality of the people you associate with. The clients you work with should be a reflection of the referrals you want to work with. The boundaries or lack of boundaries you have with them are likely the same sorts of limitations or lack of limits their referrals will expect.
WHEN TO START ASKING FOR A REFERRAL
Now comes the part that makes some of us break into a cold sweat. When do we start asking for a referral, and how do we do it?
- DON’T ASK. JUST BE.
You may like the first answer. In the article above, Benek Lisefski says he takes a more indirect approach by making himself as “referable as possible” so his clients use their own initiative to refer him when it best suits them, rather than him having to ask for a referral.
So, one method is to begin by making yourself someone people want to refer to! In a FreeU blog post, “How to Find Ideal Clients (in Your Own Backyard),” they describe their local network as a series of circles. The inner circle is the people you know best (family and friends). The middle circles are colleagues and acquaintances. Whether or not these people need your services, they can refer you to potential clients if they think favorably of you. You can boost their opinion of you by maintaining healthy relationships with past and present colleagues and lovingly supporting your family and friends in their own endeavors.
In the same way, you can encourage referrals from existing clients by doing the best work you can and maintaining a healthy client relationship with them. Remember the quality of the referral will reflect on them too.
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME TO ASK.
Sometimes you need to take a deep breath, swallow your pride if necessary, and simply ask for a referral. Even if you’re delivering stellar work to your clients, they may not know you’d like to be referred until you ask them.
Megan Taylor’s article “5 tips to asking for referrals (and a sample referral email)” provides some helpful guidelines for timing your request. This depends on whether you’re doing one-off projects or long-term projects and retainer agreements. She advises waiting to ask for a referral until after the client has given their final sign-off if you’re doing a one-off project like a brand redesign or content for an eBook.
And if you’re doing ongoing work as part of a retainer agreement or long-term project, she suggests using your gut feeling and checking in with your client for feedback. Then “ask once you know you’ve provided unparalleled value.” At the same time, she warns against asking for a referral in your freelance invoice.
HOW TO ASK FOR A REFERRAL
As mentioned above, you can choose the referral request method that works best for you, your clients, and your local network.
Here are some options:
- CONTACT PAST OR PRESENT CLIENTS DIRECTLY
Here’s where we could use the Nike slogan “Just do it.” Once you’ve decided on the correct time to ask, contact your existing or former clients in a way that most resonates with them:
- Personalized email
- Phone call
- Zoom or Skype video call
- Social media message
- Whatever is most appropriate for your relationship
Susan Ward recommends asking face-to-face in her article, “How to Ask for Referrals and Get More Clients.” She says, “People will always be more likely to do something for someone else if the person is standing right in front of them.” But she adds, “It is acceptable to ask for referrals by email or phone if you work under conditions where face-to-face meetings are uncommon or very difficult.” In this case, a Zoom or Skype video call could serve as an in-person meeting.
- ASK FOR A TESTIMONIAL OR VIDEO CASE STUDY
An indirect way of asking for a referral is to ask for testimonials or video case studies that you can post on your website and share on social media. This article has some wise advice if you don’t want to directly ask for a referral:
“Ask for a testimonial instead. That way you still have something you can use on your website or in your marketing materials… plus you’ll get your client thinking about what a great job you did.”
They might even offer a referral on their own!”
How To Guide People
- OFFER INCENTIVES.
In the Referral Marketing Success Course, Craig Cannings suggests five types of incentives you can offer in exchange for referrals:
- Referral fee (e.g. $50 – $100 value)
- Service credit (e.g. a specific number of hours or monetary value credited toward future services)
- Service discount (e.g. 5-10% discount off existing or future services)
- E-Gift card or other Gifts (e.g. $50 – $100 online Amazon gift card)
- Free training or resources (e.g. courses, training, or eBooks provided at no charge)
At the same time, he outlines the pros and cons. On one hand, incentives offer both clients and non-clients a tangible motivator and make it easier to ask for referrals. On the other hand, they can make the referral seem less natural and authentic. They can also devalue the referral if the potential client finds out that the referrer received an incentive. So, be sure that incentives are right for your business before using them.
- ASK FOR LINKEDIN RECOMMENDATIONS
LinkedIn provides an option to ask connections whether they’re willing to write a recommendation for your work. Simply navigate to the profile of a 1st-degree connection, click the “More” button, and select “Request a recommendation.” Once the connection has been written, you can display this recommendation on your LinkedIn profile.
In an article titled “How to Ask For The All Important LinkedIn Recommendation,” JoAnne Funch suggests requesting a recommendation immediately after you complete a service for your client.
She also advises personalizing the request:
“It is important that you NEVER send the default request for a recommendation. This doesn’t help you, and you are not helping the person you are asking to take their time to recommend you. Your goal is to make it easy for the person you are asking to respond in a timely manner. In your request write a sentence or two about the service they purchased, the results they gained from your service, and the benefits of working with you.”
Robin Ryan suggests another strategy in her article “How To Get Valuable LinkedIn Recommendations And Endorsements.” Instead of requesting the recommendation, she suggests first writing a recommendation for your connection. The LinkedIn system will notify them and ask if they’d like to write a recommendation for you in return. She then suggests writing your connection a personalized email and letting them know what you’d like them to discuss in their recommendation for you.
- ACTIVATE FACEBOOK RECOMMENDATIONS (FORMERLY FACEBOOK REVIEWS)
Another effective way of indirectly asking for a referral is to turn Recommendations on for your Facebook Page. By doing so, anyone who’s logged into Facebook can see your Page’s rating, see other Recommendations that were shared with a Public privacy setting, and publish their own Recommendations to your Page.
According to the Facebook for Business site, these Recommendations are also discoverable across the Facebook platform when people are searching for your business or talking about it. It’s easy for people to leave a recommendation by answering “Yes” or “No” and choosing text, photos, or tags to explain why they’re recommending it.
In her article, “Creating an online review management strategy,” Jenn Chen stresses the need to identify which social networks you’re going to focus on and then respond to both negative and positive reviews.
“To find the most opportune networks for your reviews, it may be best to set up a social media listening strategy that will bring up online chatter about your business. If you start seeing more reviews from one network, maybe it’ll be time to join it. Plus, with listening, you’ll be able to find other sources of valuable feedback about your business across social networks.”
WHAT IF YOU RECEIVE A REFERRAL THAT DOESN’T FEEL RIGHT?
Referrals are like blind dates. Sometimes you meet the person and know that despite everyone’s good intentions, this client relationship is not going to work. Although you don’t want to miss valuable opportunities, it’s important to steer away from accepting referrals that are not good for your business. Focus on developing your intuition to determine whether a certain referral is a good fit and have a clear picture of your ideal client.
Here are some ways you can accept the best referrals for you and your business:
- DEFINE YOURSELF AND YOUR SERVICES CLEARLY
Word-of-mouth referrals for business owners are sometimes like the game of telephone. This is where the information gets confused and changed along the way. People can become frustrated if they find out you don’t do what the referrer said you did. And if you change your niche, be clear about what your new niche is, so you don’t disappoint people. They might think you still do the previous work.
- LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Learn how to say no gracefully, and don’t say yes to something that doesn’t feel right. Keep a list of other quality business owners you can refer to if the task is too far outside your niche. If I receive a referral that isn’t right for me, I often recommend one of my colleagues, LinkedIn connections, or freelancers listed in the Freelance University professional directory.
I’m forever grateful for the referral I received that launched my small business journey. Although it can be nerve-wracking to ask for them, referrals are a crucial part of building a business with high-quality clients. Choose the method that works best for you, and wholeheartedly thank your referrers.
As Leah Kalamakis says in her article “10 Ways To Get More Referrals,”
“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.”
And now we’d love to hear from you! Have you received business as a result of referrals? Which method of asking for referrals works best for you? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.
A Simple Process to Onboard New Clients in your VA Business
Having a Simple Process to Onboard New Clients what we are exploring today. Below are some steps you can take to become a successful business.
As you work on creating your virtual assistant business, you will get to a point where you’re ready to start taking on clients.
And then you freeze. Like really?
You realize that you’re not sure of all the pieces involved in that process.
You think things like:
How do I let potential clients know I’m available to talk about their needs?
What should my client onboarding process look like?
What should I put in my client welcome packet?
If any of those thoughts are spinning around in your head, I’m here to help. This is going to break down each step for you.
A Simple Process to Onboard New Clients
Here are all the deets:
- Contact Page
Having a contact page on your site is important. This is often the first contact point between you and potential clients, and step one in the process.
To make it easier for potential clients, I suggest having a contact form that they can fill out, as well as a link to schedule a call with you. You can set this up easily by using a CRM like Dubsado. Clicking this link will get you a discount, just sayin’.
- Initial Consultation Call
Once the potential client schedules with you, you’ll want to have an idea of what to say on the call. You want to ask the right questions so that you really understand what they’re looking for, and make sure you’re both a good fit for each other.
We don’t recommend giving someone a final price over the phone. Rather, explain that you’ll use the info from your call together to create a solution that’s best for them, and you’ll get back to them with an estimate. You can create a simple estimate document or send one with online options like Freshbooks or you can also do this in Dubsado. Make it part of your process.
Follow the Plan
Once a client agrees to get started, both of you need to sign a contract before work begins. You can keep the contract simple and cover things like scope of work, time frame, how you’ll communicate with each other. Add in things like confidentiality, and how you’ll handle things if either of you chooses not to work together and terminate the contract.
It is highly recommended that you send an initial invoice after the contract is signed so that you receive payment from the start of the project. You can do so with online programs such as PayPal or there are great options for doing this in Dubsado.
- Welcome Email
Now it’s time to email your new client, welcoming them and letting them know how you will start the process of working together. Send them a copy of your signed contract, and talk about next steps. Make sure that you’re clear on how and when you will communicate with each other.
A few more steps
- Client Form
This is a place for you to keep all important information pertaining to your client and their accounts. You can create a Word or Google doc, an Excel spreadsheet or keep the info in Evernote—whatever works best for you. You’ll want to note things like their name, business name, website, email, phone, social media profile links and the services you’re providing for them. If you use Dubsado, these things you can have set up automatically.
- Thank You
Add a special touch by sending your new client a small thank you gift or card. This is a completely optional step, but something that will set you apart from others.
Follow the plan step-by-step. One thing I know well is that with everything, taking each step will build your confidence level higher and higher.
Remember to reach out if you need help.
Don’t Forget to De-clutter Your Mind
One of the things you notice when you start de-cluttering is how so much of the clutter in your house reflects the clutter in your mind. If you’re hanging onto clothes that don’t fit, or the ugly vase your mother gave you for Christmas.
Or … how about the exercise bike you might get around to using, you don’t just have a problem with too much stuff?
YOU have a problem letting go.
Chances are you’re also hanging onto a whole bunch of bad feelings, ill-founded assumptions, old grievances, and future worries.
Ok … so what?
If it feels good to de-clutter your house, it feels even better to de-clutter your mind. Really? Humm…I gotta think about that!
declutter[ dee-kluht-er ] SHOW IPA verb (used with or without object) to remove mess or clutter from (a place). to organize and prioritize (one’s commitments, material possessions, etc.): Declutter your calendar and spend more time with your family.
Here are some useful expert tips to make some space in your mind.
- Use some meditation techniques
You don’t have to do the full sitting on a cushion in a darkened room thing to benefit from meditation techniques. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, some simple breathing techniques can help you calm down and focus.
For a few minutes, focus only on your breathing and nothing else. If your mind wanders or gets back into the worrying groove, you must put that aside and come back to focus on your breath.
- Write it down
It can help to write down anything that’s on your mind. Once all those worries are down on paper, you can prioritize them and work out a plan to deal with them. You can also assess them to identify what’s essential and what isn’t.
When you can see what’s important, you can focus your energy and free up some of that mental space!
- Stay in the present
Brooding over the past and worrying about the future take up a lot of space in your mind and achieve precisely nothing. Let go of regret over past mistakes or resentment of past slights and move on. Keep your focus on what you can influence right here, right now.
- Do one thing at a time
Multitasking is not only overrated (it’s very inefficient), it also leads to greater anxiety, and you never do any one thing properly. Focus on doing things methodically and thoroughly. As you finish one task, move onto the next.
- Control all the incoming data
We talk about being available 24/7 and the 24-hour news cycle, but there is only one person who can control that. You. You can choose to switch off your computer, smartphone, and tv and control the amount of data your brain is trying to process.
De-cluttering your mind will pay off in all sorts of ways you hadn’t imagined. You will be more productive, less stressed and more motivated. Cha-cha-cha!!
Feeling better now? YOU’RE NOT??
Ok – we need to talk! Like right NOW!
How to Maintain a De-cluttered Home
So you’ve followed all the advice and de-cluttered your house. Woah…so proud of you! But … all too soon, you realize that you have clutter creep. So tell me then, How to Maintain a De-cluttered Home, get my drift?
Stuff is starting to build up again. Maybe you ended up replacing some of the stuff you got rid of or maybe everyone isn’t pitching in to keep the house de-cluttered.
Here are a few simple, quick habits that all family members can do to keep the house de-cluttered.
Deal with mail immediately—
The last thing any of us want to do after a long day at work is dealing with the mail. But since it has to be done, do it immediately.
- Throw ads and other junk mail directly in the trash or recycling bin.
- Put bills and other important papers in the specified place and shred sensitive information that doesn’t need to be filed.
- To make this even easier, make all your bills, banking and other statements paperless and get your name on the “no junk mail” list.
Before long, there will be very little mail to deal with at all.
Nightly pick-up routine—
As you gather in the living room in the evenings, each family member brings stuff with them—a mug, a glass, a snack plate, an iPod, a hand-held video game or homework.
- Have you ever noticed how frequently that stuff stays in the living room, making it cluttered?
- Set a new rule that each night before heading to bed, everyone picks up everything they brought into the room that evening and puts it back where it belongs, in their out-the-door basket, for example.
- It takes 2 minutes to do and keeps clutter creep to a minimum.
Add a coat rack and baskets—
As soon as the family walks in the door, they are likely to take off coats and backpacks, set down lunch boxes and briefcases, all right in the entryway where they will be tripped over for the rest of the evening.
- To keep this area decluttered, add a coat rack and a basket or cubby for each person in the entryway.
- Get family members used to hanging up their coats and putting the other stuff they bring home in a designated place.
- Like their out-the-door basket
It will take a little time and a few gentle reminders, but everyone will eventually appreciate the new peace that a decluttered house exudes
Eliminate your junk drawers—
This may sound undoable, but it really isn’t. Have a place for everything, including the small items that tend to end up in a junk drawer.
- Get small containers or better yet, upcycle some with the kids, and keep these small items separated and organized in drawers.
- Things like batteries, paper clips, rubber bands, twist ties, etc. all have their own place in a drawer or two.
- Take a rubber band off the Sunday paper? Put it immediately in the correct cubby hole before sitting down to enjoy the paper.
Seriously – hoping these tips help! Have a wonderful day. 😉
Oh, by the way…need help making decisions? Contact us here, let’s get on a call and find your solution.
Pitfalls To Watch Out For When Working From Home
There’s no denying that working from home offers many advantages. In many ways it’s the ultimate freedom; you get to set your own hours, working when, where and how you want. Below, I list out some of the very Pitfalls To Watch Out For When Working From Home.
AND, there are also a number of potential pitfalls you need to be aware of and watch out for. You will risk turning your home-based job into an unproductive nightmare. YIKES!!
The #1 spot…Failing to keep business and private life separate
This is one of THE most common issues for people who work from home, especially those who are self-employed. When the home office is “right there”, it can be hard to stay away even if you should really be off work for the day.
Before you know it, you’ll have spent another few hours of your precious weekend at work. This is the fast track to burning out, and something you must learn to avoid if you want to be successful working from home.
pitfall [ˈpitˌfôl] NOUN a hidden or unsuspected danger or difficulty. synonyms: hazard · danger · risk · peril · difficulty · issue · problem · catch · snag · stumbling block · drawback · banana skin a covered pit used as a trap.
Not planning your work…mic drop!
This mostly applies to people who are self-employed and may not have a boss telling them what to do every day. When you’re working on your own projects, planning is an absolute must.
If the first thing you ask yourself when you start your day is “Ok, what am I going to do today?”, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s much better to plan out the next day before you go off work in the evening, so you’re ready to get started first thing in the morning.
Working at irregular times – don’t do this!
When you’re free to set your own hours, it doesn’t mean that you should only work “whenever you feel like it”. Chances are after a few months that you’ll rarely feel like it at all, especially when there are so many fun distractions around the house.
That’s why it’s better to try to stick to working the same hours every day, even if it might resemble a “real job” a bit too much for your liking.
You can always take breaks during the day if you need to recharge, but try to at least go into your office around the same time if you want productivity levels to stay high.
Not getting out of the house regularly – who would have thought?
When you work from home there is usually very little motivation to go outside.
You’ve got everything you need at home anyway, right?
That’s true, but after a whole week you’ll most likely be feeling isolated and lonely, and that’s perfectly normal.
That’s why it’s so important to make time for little things like grabbing lunch with a friend – something as simple as that can really boost your energy and make your working week easier and less lonely.
NEED A FRIEND THIS WEEK?