Referrals from those who know your business best—clients and colleagues with whom you’ve actually worked—are better than almost any other types of leads because they come pre-qualified. Prospective clients inherently trust them more and are more likely to book your services with less effort and “selling” on your part. They are, in a word, gold.
So, how can you get even more referrals from creative partners and clients? You have to earn them! Here are eight steps to becoming referral-worthy.
1. Do great work and offer exceptional service. The number one way to be referral-worthy is to do your job well. When a client or colleague refers someone to you, they are entrusting you to make them proud and to protect both of your reputations. You should always strive for excellence, but never more so than when working with someone who was referred to you by a valued source.
2. Nurture your relationships with your creative partners. Staying top of mind is one of the most important ways to ensure that your colleagues refer you next time they encounter a client in need. Don’t passively wait for them to remember you. Check in regularly in person, via email, and via social media platforms. Send them referrals and occasionally make a point of asking how you can help them grow their businesses or address challenges.
3. Show interest in their business and personal lives. Be an exceptional listener and focus on others so they know you are inclined to think outside of yourself. When you meet someone, make a point of learning at least one thing about them that you can refer to later—their child’s name, favorite sport’s team, or something about their cherished pet. Work the detail into your next conversation naturally to show you care.
“Make sure your virtual communications are presented professionally and that they represent your brand well.”
4. Stay in touch virtually. Use email and social media to stay in contact after you’ve worked with someone or met someone with whom you hope to work in the future. Make sure your virtual communications are presented professionally and that they represent your brand well. Update your email signature regularly and choose an appropriate level of formality based on your relationship with the party you are emailing.
5. Keep promotional virtual communications to a minimum. Don’t rely on daily or weekly mass emails to stay top of mind. If you provide a high-value newsletter, for example, only send it once or twice a month. Be mindful of their time so they continue to view you as a valuable ally, not a nuisance constantly seeking their attention and leads.
6. Make referring you easy. Keep your website up to date so creative partners have somewhere accurate to send their clients. Have a supply of professionally developed business cards and materials that advertise your business in case your colleagues ask for them. Offer to set up a display in a storefront or venue demonstrating what a collaboration with you might look like. In doing so, you promote both businesses and encourage booking your services together.
7. Be patient. Don’t expect every venue to put you on their preferred vendor list after your first contact or your first event. Consistently demonstrate through your performance and by referring your clients to them that you can be trusted. The next time they review their lists, they will be most likely to add you. Asking and expecting too soon might keep you off of them for good.
Photo Hanny Naibaho - https://unsplash.com/@hannynaibaho
8. Say thank you. When you receive a referral, go out of your way to express your gratitude. You might send a card or deliver a personal thanks at a networking meeting. Even when you’ve received dozens of referrals from the same creative partner, it’s still nice to acknowledge the generosity with an email or an occasional quick call.
The key to a thriving referral business is to prove to clients and creative partners that you are worthy of their recommendations. Follow these steps for the best possible head start toward becoming the event professional everyone refers without hesitation.