I Used to Feel Awkward Asking for Referrals
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.
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.
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 thereâ€™s me, who doesnâ€™t want to risk offending anyone. Ever.
So, I told myself I needed some backbone in this department.
The second problem was my timing â€¦ as in I was waiting too long to make â€śthe askâ€ť 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 â€¦ 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 â€śthe next time,â€ť 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: Iâ€™m too shy/embarrassed/scared to ask for a referral.
To: Itâ€™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.
Iâ€™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 clientâ€™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 youâ€™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 â€śonlyâ€ť 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 â€śsuccessfulâ€ť 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.