Referrals sometimes just happen by themselves, and that’s fantastic. But you can prime the pump with these six key strategies:
1) Identify clients, suppliers, and colleagues who admire your work and explicitly ask them for referrals. And don’t just ask for names of possible customers – ask for a bona fide introduction. That’s by far the best kind of referral.
2) Plant the idea of referrals by asking for them on your statements or other communications with established customers. Even a polite note on your website reinforces the idea: “We consider referrals to be the kindest compliment.”
3) Remember that good karma circles back to you, so refer your colleagues or suppliers whenever appropriate. If you like the work a particular architectural engineer does, refer her firm to someone the next time the topic comes up. She may do the same for you.
4) Lay the foundation. Obviously, good referrals depend on doing good work, so high quality must be a given. But take it a step further by sending a “report card” or thank you note to each client. This helps establish your firm in your clients’ minds.
5) Consider rewarding referrers. Paying referral fees is frowned upon among architects, and the AIA Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct states that architects must disclose any financial interest involved in a referral. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t thank your clients or associates for referrals. Sending a thank you letter, taking the person out to lunch, or otherwise recognizing the referral signals to the referrer that you appreciate their help.
6) Don’t let social media define your referrals. In today’s world, social media seems to be at the top of everyone’s marketing strategy. But real, human, face-to-face referrals are much more effective than a LinkedIn “endorsement” or a Facebook “Like.” Those are a dime a dozen; real referrals are rare and valuable.
Keep in mind that referrals also reflect upon the person making the referral, so don’t disappoint them by not taking advantage of a referral or doing anything less than stellar work for the new client.