4 Easy Steps to Start Building Your Referral Network

January 27, 2020

There are only so many hours in the day for all of the things you want to accomplish, especially when you’re busy with conferences, social media, blogging, webinars, cold calling, advertising, email marketing, SEO, free offers, and so much more!

Instead of focusing on it all, make sure you’re putting emphasis on the actions that have the greatest ROI (return on investment). We truly believe networking is a great place to be focusing some of your time and energy so that you can start building your network with profitable referral sources. Here are some easy ways to get started:

Go the Extra Mile to be Memorable

People are always building their arsenal of recommendations. Who doesn’t like having the perfect restaurant, product or service, business, or professional to suggest when someone asks? In general, people want to be helpful, so if you’re providing your clients with a high level of service that makes them feel appreciated and valued, they’ll be more likely to share you with their network. People can’t refer clients to you if they don’t remember you so it’s important to take steps to be memorable to your clients encouraging referrals through word of mouth.

How do I make myself more memorable?

Being memorable can look like many different things. The first step is understanding what your ideal clients value. If you do in-person sessions, that might mean creating a more welcoming space – offering clients lemon water when they arrive, having healthy snacks on hand, diffusing essential oils, or keeping potted plants on the table. If you tend to do virtual sessions, think of ways to go beyond the screen and reach your clients more personally. Have they recently reached a milestone with their health? Is their birthday coming up? Whatever the occasion, don’t underestimate the power of a handwritten card or a note on nice stationery. People like to feel special, seen, and appreciated and going out of your way to make them feel this way gets you one step closer to that coveted referral.

Network, Network, Network

Networking can feel like a big, overwhelming task but it doesn’t have to be! A very effective way to get referrals is through other professionals in your industry. Start by attending trade shows, seminars, or relevant conferences to build relationships. This doesn’t mean you have to be the life of the party, with a large circle of rapt listeners hanging on your every word. Start by striking up a conversation with the person sitting beside you. Ask them what brought them here, what they do, and what are they hoping to get out of the event.

Don’t forget to bring business cards and swap contact information with anyone you speak to. Make sure you have a pen and jot down a few notes about the person on the back of their card. This way, you’ll remember your conversation with them and can reference it in your follow-up. A few days after the event, send out an email to anyone you felt like you connected with and invite them for coffee. This is your opportunity to learn more about them and their business and to likewise talk more about what you do. This is the first step in making what could be a worthwhile connection.

There are also online communities that you can join. Take a few minutes and see where you get with a quick Google or Facebook search. LinkedIn is also a really helpful tool for this. Make it a goal to reach out to a certain number of professionals a week to go for coffee or arrange a phone call. And don’t forget to keep those lines of communication open afterward. They might have clients who are looking for exactly what you offer, so you always want to stay top of mind.

Finally, another important aspect of this is giving referrals yourself. When you recommend your favorite professionals, that can create a powerful chain reaction. After all, you get what you give!

Don’t Be Shy! Just Ask

There’s nothing wrong with asking for what you want. It might feel scary, but realistically, what’s the worst that can happen? Mute those insecurities and go forth with confidence. You’ve got this! You can even set yourself up for success by focusing on your best or favorite clients first. It can be as easy as letting them know you have space in your week for a new client or something you add at the bottom of your invoices or receipts. If you’ve done your job well, this shouldn’t be awkward for anyone involved.

If you’re asking for a referral, you might consider instituting an incentive program. This doesn’t need to be extensive or complicated. For example, a good incentive can be a discount on your services or a gift card for something else entirely (who doesn’t love a free tea or coffee?). However, before implementing this strategy, make sure the ROI will be worth it the incentive you’re offering.

The Power of Social Media

You can also encourage social media sharing, which acts as a more indirect referral. To encourage sharing, put your social media handles on your business cards, website, and in your email signature. You can also ask clients for their permission to tag them in a post that celebrates their achievements. Chances are, they will re-share that post with their own networks. In today’s digital world, you can never underestimate the power of a good Insta shoutout or share, especially in a referral business.

Finding new clients can be one of the most daunting activities for solo practitioners. You don’t have the support of a marketing team who can go out on your behalf and find those new clients for you. However, you shouldn’t be afraid to leverage your existing network of family, friends, and existing clients. Spending a small amount of time each week building more meaningful relationships, researching networking opportunities, or incentivizing referrals from existing clients can bring about large returns down the road. Regardless of your approach, just remember that there’s a whole world of opportunities and possible connections out there waiting for you.

Practice Better is the complete practice management platform for nutritionists, dietitians and wellness professionals. Streamline your practice and begin your 14-day free trial today.

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