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3. Hold a referral event.
Thanking your customers by inviting them to an after-hours event or breakfast is a great way to nurture your relationship. Even better is asking them to bring one of their own clients, so everyone can benefit from meeting more people. The secret to success is making the event compelling enough to inspire them to attend. So you might invite an up-and-coming winemaker to sample their newest release, or host an industry thought-leader.
4. Join a networking group.
Networking groups have a variety of constructs, but you'll find the most high-quality referrals come when the primary purpose is to trade leads among people in different industries. Usually these groups meet every other week, and one of the requirements for membership is that all are committed to providing referrals. For the best results, be specific about the work you do and the type of clients who will benefit most from your product or service. Be sure to include details about your ideal referrals, such as the size of their business and whether or not they need to be local. The more specific you are, the easier it is for your fellow members to say “Oh! I know someone!"
5. Seek case studies or testimonials for your website.
Since most sales research starts on the web, case studies are increasingly important for referrals. The most interesting testimonials are full of details. For example, which referral would resonate with you more? Someone who said, “Paul had great ideas for our advertising campaign and it was very successful." Or “Anne listened to our specific challenges and designed an ad campaign that reached our niche target audience. She delivered materials on time and under budget and helped us achieve a 10% rise in sales last quarter." Wow! I'm definitely hiring Anne, aren't you?
However your customers provide referrals, be sure to thank them afterward. Everyone likes to feel appreciated — and it can keep the referral spigot open.