Anita, an advisor in her mid-thirties, was terrified about talking with her clients about introducing her to friends and family members who might need her help.
“What are you afraid might happen if you talk to them about introducing you to the people they care about?” I asked her.
“Well, I don’t know…,” she began. “Maybe they’re going to think I’m needy and have to beg for clients. And they’re going to get all awkward and tell me they can’t think of anyone, because they’re not going to want to bother their friends. It’s happened to me before.”
“If you make it about you–about your need for clients–you’re probably right,” I explained, “Your need is about the ugliest thing you can show a client.”
“But if you make it about the people they care about–family, friends, people they work with,” I continued, “you’ll be less awkward, and they’ll be more receptive.”
Referrals are an excellent way to grow virtually any professional practice or service business. In a practice like Anita’s, where the service is very personal, referrals are often the best way. Surveys in several industries show that most people would prefer to be introduced to a provider, rather than to respond to an ad or an internet search, and talking with your clients about introducing you to someone who might need your help gives them an opportunity to be a hero–to make a difference in the life of someone they care about.
So while referrals will definitely benefit you, they also benefit your clients and the people they refer you to. The solution is to stop asking for referrals–an act that may be awkward because it’s all about you–and start asking your clients to help the people they care about by introducing you to them. Ask yourself these questions:
1. Do I provide excellent service to my clients?
2. Do my clients have people in their lives who might need that service?
3. Do I deserve to be the one to help those people?
If the answer to all three of these questions is “yes”, start talking to your clients constantly about introducing you to the people in their lives who might need your help.