5 Quick Steps to Become a Referral-Getting Machine

You’re great at what you do. Otherwise you wouldn’t have a business.

In our fantasy world, that’s enough to get referrals.

In the real world, it’s not.

You need to orchestrate referrals. That means, you have to make it a cinch for people to tell other people about you.

If you don’t, then you’re losing money in your business.

Lots of it.

So, let’s plug those leaks, and turn your small business into a referral magnet. Here’s how…

1 – Make it easy for your clients and customers to share you on social media.

When you’re first getting started in your business, it may seem like a big bawdy thing to get your own official Facebook fan page. (After all, you’re just YOU, right? Who the heck are YOU?) So, you decide to just use your personal page.

Or you don’t get a Twitter account for your business because YOU don’t particularly like Twitter.

When it comes to feeling small, or “not liking” a social media platform, there’s one thing to remember:

Your opinions (and self-esteem) don’t really matter here. Only your clients and customers matter!

Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer and you just photographed John and Douglas’s wedding. John and Douglas have lots of friends on Facebook and Twitter. And guess what? Now that your state has legalized gay marriage, these friends are about to head your way.

John and Douglas are posting your photos all over the place on social media. But – bummer – they can’t tag you in their fun posts! You just lost out on hundreds, if not thousands of page views and potential new clients!

Total lost opportunity.

 Quick Social Media Action Step to get referrals:

Get a Facebook page for your business. (NOT your personal page!) Get an Instagram account. Get a Twitter account. Use your business name. And make sure your clients know how to tag you and link to you.

 2 – Make it easy for your prospects to find you.

Think of everywhere people see your name or your businesses name. Website, the online yellow pages, your business card, your Facebook page, etc.

Make sure your address (if you have a location) and phone number and email, and all information are on every page and are very clear and easy to see.

Yes, this may sound like “Duh!” But I can’t begin to count the number of businesses (especially local businesses – who would most benefit from this!) who make it ridiculously hard to find their physical address! (One of my city’s tailgate markets didn’t even have their LOCATION on their website. Their LOCATION!)

We’re all on our phones now. We have the attention-span of fleas. Yes, we found you. But it doesn’t mean we won’t forget you in an instant. Make it easy for us to pull you up on our phone and show up at your door (or call) if we want to do that right now!

 Quick Contact Info Action Step to Get Referrals:

Add all of your contact info to your website contact page and to the header. Add it to your card. Add it to any social media platform where your prospects can find you online.

3 – Make Sure Your Website Has a Pulse

Does your website footer or any page on your website indicate that your last update was last year? Or 2011? Or even 2012?

If so, then it looks like you checked out and never came back. (Not unheard of in this world of quick start-ups and rapidly closing businesses!)

Yes, I know you’re overwhelmed. But it doesn’t take much to add updates to your site once a week of some sort.

Ideas from the wedding photographer example:

Post photos of your latest wedding. (Easy-peasy!)

Post a random art photo and write a blurb about it. (And how this image reminds you of a wedding you just did.)

Post a photo of you meeting in-person with one of your clients. Your prospects want to know you’ll connect with them. (Hey, we LOVE that shit!)

 Quick Website Action Step to Get Referrals:

Get a WordPress site. Or some user-friendly blog site. Tell your webguy to show you the Dashboard – and how to upload a new post. (Or better yet, make him teach someone on your team!)

Then, create a habit. Once a week… update your website. Put it in your calendar. Be present. People are watching more than you know.

(And check the dates in your footers and on every page to make sure they are updated to THIS YEAR.)

4 – Create systems for follow up and reaching out.

A few years ago, I went to a floral designer’s shop to share how much I loved her flowers. (Yes, I had to call to find her address. It wasn’t on her site. Sigh.)

I wanted to become her client. She wasn’t available that day, so I shared with her shop manager that I wanted to have two arrangements created and delivered to Uplevel World Headquarters every single week for the rest of the year.

The employee told me they would call me back with pricing the next day.

They never did.

I’m sure it’s not that they didn’t want the business. Most likely, there was no follow-up system.

Thousands of dollars lost.

 Quick Systems Set-Up Action Step to Get Referrals:

Create 30 minutes of “prospect” time each and every day of your business. Use that time to return calls, check in with other vendors, thank people for referrals, follow up with your last clients. It doesn’t matter what you do – just schedule the time so you keep the pipeline full. Don’t wait until business dies down. Your prospects won’t be there anymore. They found someone who DOES have follow up systems.

5 – Be referable.

Your clients won’t refer you to their friends if you are not referable.

This is not about being nice. It’s not about being mean. It’s not about punishment.

It’s about service.

And every business is a service business.

Will some things slip through the cracks every now and then? Of course they will.

But right now, take a second to make a decision that your business is going to be a strong support for your skill and artistry. And then start small. Take one of these action steps this week.


So – which one of these calls to you? And what action step are you going to take THIS WEEK to get ‘er done?

  • Katie

    I’m going to jump on scheduling 30 minutes of prospect time a day – I love that, especially since I juggle multiple businesses.

    A question about FB pages for solopreneurs. I have one for my bricks and mortar business and the nonprofit I work for, but have used my personal page for coaching, simply because it gets a lot more play/action. Does it remain important to have a page for a solo business, or is that changing? It seems like pages have less reach these days. Are you seeing a change? Thanks, Chrisitine. Great inspiration and doable action steps as always!

  • Jonas K

    It is amazing and remarkable we don’t simply use FB, twitter and basic web visibility in ways that are so effortless to us.

    It’s really true people make an obstacle of THEIR issue about being ‘too visible’ online or ‘not liking (facebook, twitter, telling people what continent they inhabit… how to ever possibly reach them during the week, etc.)’ That is so funny but it rings absolutely true. Perhaps that alone is a good ‘self-selecting’ criterion of sorting out those whom with we would like to work.

    Conversely, not embracing those means of contact in an intelligent way is much like volunteering to have a less successful career or service. Probably a comparatively high success rate of non-success is assured. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Kelley

    Thanks for turning some of my mountains into mole hills!

  • Wayfaring Wanderer ( Jessica)

    Good tips! I just implemented a new Ambassador Program to help me book more wedding clients in 2015/2016!

    My goal is to book 5 weddings in 30 days, and 25 for the year; booked 1 so far this week and I’m at 6 for the year.

    I’ve been sending out warm letters everyday and connecting / networking with other local vendors to let them know about the $100 referral fee they’ll receive when a couple books!

    At an event I went to last night with other wedding pros several people were telling me that they were sending folks my way! 🙂

  • Alexandre L’Eveille

    All good advice, much of which I already advice my branding clients to do. (I actually had one last year who wanted to be sure his contact info. was “not too visible.” REALLY? I always wondered what he was hiding, but I also realized over the course of our engagement that he was not my ideal peep for many reasons.)

    I have a company page on LinkedIn, business page on FB, business page for Pinterest and twitter account for my biz, but not an instagram or vine account. Think I’ll check those out.