Here is How I Changed my Mindset

Asking for a referral may seem egotistical and a bit self-centered, but it is also a good business practice. In this article, Rod Burkert shares two personal obstacles he overcame that kept him from asking for referrals and what changed his mind on this matter.

I Used to Feel Awkward Asking for Referrals—Here is How I Changed my Mindset

When it comes to building a pipeline of work, referrals are the lifeblood of a BVFLS practice. So why did I feel so awkward asking my clients for them? What was my problem?

Turns out there were two.

Problem #1

The first problem was my personality. I know some people who will ask anyone for anything anytime anywhere. With the sincerest of feelings and without a trace of hesitation. Then there’s me, who doesn’t want to risk offending anyone. Ever.

So, I told myself I needed some backbone in this department.

Problem #2

The second problem was my timing … as in I was waiting too long to make “the ask” because of my first problem. It was awkward when I waited weeks after a project was completed to go back to a client and then ask for a referral … because my weeks-later ask was no longer connected to the then-present-day service I provided.

So, I told myself I would ask for a referral sooner “the next time,” which hardly ever happened.

Changes in Latitude, Changes in Attitude

The clients who know me, my practice, and the work I do, also know other people who could benefit from the value I bring to the table. And I am creating value, after all, right? So, the solution to Problem #1 was a mental shift.

From: I’m too shy/embarrassed/scared to ask for a referral.

To: It’s an incredible disservice not to ask for introductions to people who will greatly benefit from my good work.

Speak Now or Forever Hold My Peace

I am a creature of habit. Especially habits built into checklists. And I love checklists. So, the solution to Problem #2 was making the ask for a referral part of my new engagement checklist. Specifically, when the client accepts my proposal I ask for the referral and get it out of the way.

I’m not that spontaneous. But when I have a script in hand, I can sound unrehearsed. So, this is what I say to the new client: I am confident that everything we are working on together will turn out as expected. If you have a good experience and are pleased with the result, may I ask you to recommend me to other people you know who might appreciate the same thing?

I ask upfront for the client’s commitment that I will later seek, provided I deliver the goods. And I have hinged the right to ask for that referral on me doing good work for my client.

Then, when my client is thrilled with my work and work product, I can ask for the referral. And this is what I ask: Since you’re happy with the work I did, could you make an introduction to someone you know who might need my help? If you could make a call or send an e-mail introducing me, I would really appreciate it.

Now it is Up to Me (and You)

Now the “only” things I must do are 1) everything necessary to deserve those referrals, and 2) confidently ask for the referrals I earned. Awkwardness problems solved!

What do you think?


Everyone has a different idea of what a successful practice is. The practice you want is personal because it is based on what “successful” means to you. I help practitioners focus on the strategies, tactics, tools, and tech to build/grow/scale their versions of successful practices. If you want some help with that, e-mail me at rod@rodburkert.com.

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