In my work with healthcare and service-industry professionals, I’m often asked for my advice on the concept of “asking for referrals” to build your business. My answer? Sometimes I like it and sometimes… I most definitely don’t.
As a customer myself, I’ve been asked for referrals and it felt natural, sincere, and I was inclined to try to spread the word on behalf of the person or business. I’ve also been asked for referrals where it felt awkward, rehearsed, overbearing, presumptive, and pushy and left me decidedly disinclined to do it. So what makes the difference?
First, let me establish that you must decide personally what feels right for you. Some people truly LOVE directly asking for referrals in their business. And I believe, because it is so in line with their natural personality and so comfortable for them, they come across to their customers as excited and authentic, and it works!
In no way do I suggest what feels perfect for me will also feel perfect for you. But actually, this makes my next point: Just because a great sales trainer says you MUST ask for referrals to grow your business and do so in a certain way or using a certain script, doesn’t necessarily mean you should. At best, what they are really saying is, “This is what has worked for me with my personality, and it might also work for you.”
Be open and discerning. Trust yourself and definitely ask your clients in an authentic and conversational way for what you want.
People pick up on sincerity and genuineness and can sense if you are comfortable in your own skin. They know when someone is reading to them from a script and intuitively sense when someone is authentically excited and enthusiastic. When it is real, coming from your core and the heart of who you are, it draws like a magnet. People want to help people they trust and like, and they are attracted to someone (or a group of “someones”) who seems to love what they’re doing, where they’re going, and who they’re doing it with. That’s really the key.
I believe when you truly impact someone’s life in a profound way, they think about it, remember it, and talk about it to others. When the quality of the product or the level of your service is provided in such a way as to truly stand above others in your field, the world takes note.
That being said, your clients and customers cannot read your mind. If you want to grow your business or expand your services in a particular direction, talk about it! Let people know, in a deliberate way as part of the natural conversation with your own authentic exuberance, what you’re up to, what you’re excited about, and what kind of business you want more of. If you’ve connected with them first about their life, business, and needs and have at least met (if not exceeded) their expectations, they’ll not only give this communication a warm reception but also it’s my promise to you that you’ll be amazed at the connections, ideas, personal introductions, and “happy coincidences” that will begin flowing your way… often immediately! Remember to give if you expect to receive. Engage your client in how you can support the direction and growth of their business, too. Be helpful in making connections with your network and suggesting ideas that may help their efforts.
In the end, just be you—the “you” that is on fire about what you’re doing in your life and in your business. Appreciate it. Talk about it. Laugh about it. Live every precious minute of it… and that spark will ignite the fire of your increased business.
Bring it on!
“The currency of real networking is not greed by generosity.”
~ Keith Ferrazzi