How to Ask for Referrals for Your Freelance Business

Referrals are great! Especially genuine referrals, where a new client calls or contacts you unexpectedly and says that their friend/contact (your existing or past client) told them how good you are…

All the selling has pretty much been done for you. In other words, it’s a free, warm (maybe even hot!) lead.

What if you had more of these? What if people referred more than one person, or referred prospects to you on a continuing/occasional basis…?

In general though, a client, even if they love your work, won’t think to refer you to other people. And if they do, it’s normally just the once.

You will need to ask for referrals, on a continuing basis with each client, to make it happen. But how do you ask?

Making it feel natural

There’s no need to feel uncomfortable about asking. You won’t come across as desperate, needy, intrusive or cheeky if you go about it in the right way.

The right way is simply to not ask randomly, or out of the blue.

You should first be staying in contact with ALL your existing and past clients on a regular basis. Having a mailing list is a good way to stay in touch with clients (but that’s another, huge topic). In whatever ways you can, stay in touch, keep them updated, give them ongoing value and advice… Basically, continually be building a deeper relationship with each individual client.

Then, when you ask for referrals, the client is more receptive to the idea.

Don’t let things grow cold

One mistake freelancers make is to finish a project with a client, ‘shake hands’ and leave it at that. Then, a number of months or even years later – maybe when income has dipped and more business is needed – they contact the client again asking if the client needs anything, or if the client knows someone else who might want to use the services.

But this is little better than a ‘cold sales call’. Whereas if you had kept in touch, the question would feel like a natural, friendly enquiry. Obviously the latter is more likely to produce a positive response.

Systemise the asking

As with many, if not all things in business, to do this well, you should have a system.

Make asking for referrals a part of your normal procedures. Add it as a vital step to perform along with everything else you do. And make it a thing you do repeatedly with each person over time. For example: Politely ask at the time a project is delivered or just after… ask on a monthly basis in your newsletter/mailings…

And when you ask, be sure to make it quick and easy for the client to refer people to you. Maybe have a link to a special landing page you can give them to share…

Asking for referrals is definitely worth integrating into your normal procedures/routines. Just be sure to keep the relationships with people in your client base alive. Over time, it should help bring in those free warm leads.

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