10 Ideas How to Get More Referrals

Nothing influences people more than a recommendation from a trusted friend. A trusted referral is the Holy Grail of advertising. ~ Mark Zuckerberg

Referrals are the secret to guaranteeing your business’s long-term success.

Acquiring new clients is costly and time-consuming. When you can use your existing clients to spread the word about your company, it saves you time, money, and energy.

Not only that… Clients that were referred to your business are better clients in every way. They are less price-sensitive, they are more appreciative, they spend more, they buy more often, and best of all… they refer more.

However, a lot of small business owners don’t know where to start with generating referrals.

Asking others to “promote” your business can feel awkward or intimidating. But the good news is that happy customers are excited to pass your name along to their friends.

Even if you already get referrals to your business, those probably happen on their own, without your direct influence. Unfortunately, that’s not a reliable system.

Once you understand how to make your business more referable and how to ask your existing clients to refer, you’ll be well on your way to create a referral SYSTEM that guarantees a long and successful life for your business.

Here are 10 simple ideas how to get more referrals for your small business:

1. Do a Co-Promotion

Make agreements with other small businesses who serve the same target audience with complimentary products/services to promote each other to your lists (e.g. lawyer and accountant, graphic designer and copywriter, psychotherapist and physiotherapist…) For local businesses (e.g. hair stylist, personal trainer, yoga teacher, cleaning services…) – develop a network with similar businesses all over the country. When someone from out-of-town asks you for your services, refer them to the business you endorse in their town. Make agreements that they will do the same for you…

2. Get Those Dream Clients

Make a list of your ideal ‘big’ DREAM clients. Then contact your current clients as well as your LinkedIn connections and social media followers, and ask, ‘Can you help me get in contact with  XX?”

3. Attach to the Invoice

With every invoice you send to a client (in an envelope or an email) add a ‘thank you’ note and a gift certificate they can give a friend…

4. Offer a Group Discount

For example – a seminar fee is €500 but 3 people get in for €900 and 7 get in for €1,400. They will go out and get other people to join them in buying whatever it is you offer…

5. Ask for In-Company Referrals

When you’re doing Business to Business (B2B) with large companies, ask your contact person, “You know what we do and we’ve really helped you. Could you recommend us to another person in your organization?”

6. Ask Your Top Clients for Referrals
Make a list of your TOP 10-20 clients (that spend the most money with you), then meet with each one of them individually, thank them for their business. Then say, “Let’s go over your contact list (email list, LinkedIn connections, CRM…) to see who are the people you can recommend me to.” Then have them personally call the people they put on that referral list.

7. Thank Them for Referring
Get back to the people who gave you referrals so they know what happened in the process. And if the referral became a client – send the one who referred a surprise ‘thank you’ gift. They will want to refer more often.

8. Get a Recommendation
When you ask someone to refer you and they give you a name, ask them to write a short letter/email of recommendation.

9. Follow-Up Call

A few days/weeks after you have completed delivering a product/service, contact your client and ask them how they’re doing and how is their progress… Assuming they’re happy, ask them if there’s anyone they can refer you to…

10. Ask for Evaluation and Referrals

After you have completed delivering a product/service – send your client an evaluation form, and on it leave space for 3 names of referrals and a few lines of “what would you tell them about us…”

Interested in Learning More About Referral Systems?

There are two courses on referral SYSTEMS in the Business University.
Check them out:

  • Referral Systems – short, but in-depth course about referral marketing – including 10 simple referral systems and 12 to-do’s in order to create a powerful referral SYSTEM.
  • 16 Referral Systems – this is a collection of my16 favorite referral systems – each described in 2-3 minutes and can be implemented immediately.

Now It’s YOUR Turn

For five minutes… come up with as many ideas as you can… how could YOU get more referrals to your business?

Let's Brainstorm


Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

Top Commenters – last 30 Days

Let's Brainstorm


Please share your ideas (all of them or just one) in the comment box below… and let’s get WOWing.

Live fully, stay awesome,

Nisandeh Neta

  1. An extensive list of possibilities of referrals. I got out of the blue a referral from a client. So, I will send that client a thank you note. Time to implement referrals more strategically and find out what works for me.

  2. 1. Offer to interview your clients so they don't have to do the writing.
    2. Ask new clients how come they choose you and if it was by referral sent the ones who referred a thank you post card.
    3. Give clients a visitekaartje to hand out.

  3. I followed also the video on a referral system, and learned quite a lot from that and from the 16 referral systems that were explicitly mentioned.
    The following attention points apply to me and my business:
    - Know the (potential) client and know their network
    - Add a gift to someone else with each invoice
    - Ask any new contact how he/she heard from me or my business
    - Thank everyone explicitly that referred to my business
    - Bring this all in a system to give it structure and stability.

    Best regards

  4. I LOVED what you did with the Business Bootcamp- to give everyone 2 VIP tickets to pay it forward. It was in the moment that they were very enthusiastic, and it would be a win win win: because they would also get a gift when someone came via them. I need to think about how to ask my participants in the training tomorrow how they can refer to me. It means for sure that I should plan the next session!

    Practically: I really like the list of top clients. It worked with me within a week! I am having next week a call with someone from Mammoet, and I wanted to get in there forever!

    Brings me to the next tip. please... GIVE THE REFERRER something to pass forward. I am definitely going to use my book as a referral thing. Right now I ask: would you know anyone else that I could talk to that would like to talk about his frustration in online meetings? I rarely get a no.

    But asking just to refer is hard- because the other person would immediately feel sold. But when you say: I have here a workbook about my topic, would you know anyone that might be interested, that's completely different. Or a training. GIVE FIRST as you all say, my friends.

    When you ask someone if it's ok to go over their LinkedIn contacts: make a list for THEM and let them tell you based on that list who they can contact. Works much better- because it saves them a lot of time.

    What I liked also is a bit tricky. I tell them to put me as a CC in an email to the person- so we're connected. After that I send them a funny message that there is not really a nice way to get out of it and they always react on that. So far, if the referrer dares to do it, it always worked.

    1. WOW Gerdy, you mentioned many interesting things.

      I forgot about the book, so I will reintroduce it. Thanks for the reminder.

      What do you mean to go over their LinkedIn contacts?

      1. If you talk to someone new, before you talk with them, go over their contacts on LinkedIn and make a list of people who you'd love to be introduced to. They'll tell you who they can introduce you to, and if you also deliver them a text to send it's even easier. Do the work for them and it will increase your chances of having them actually do it:)

  5. This is such an extensive list I don't know how much I can add to it. Even more, I need to think how to implement some of those things into my business.

    What I do at the end of each course I give I ask the participants to think of 3 people that can benefit from this service and write them a letter/postcard/email sharing what they've learned and give their friends one of my e-books as a gift. THis way I usually fill up quickly the next course.

    When I work in schools I ask them at the end of the work to think of a school OUTSIDE our region that they think could use my services and connect me with them.

    I must say that #2 triggers me and I want to think how I can implement it into my business

  6. Ways I can improve the referrals that I get. (I am filling a new workshop, so I will try out one of these today as well)

    1. Ask existing clients
    2. Offer something extra if someone comes through a referral
    3. Set up an affiliate system with link tracking
    4. Offer something extra to existing clients and then ask them to refer.
    5. Let competitors know what I am doing and ask them to offer it to their clients
    6. I still love the giving several business cards and asking them to forward the cards.

    1. I really love your #5 @Max and your #6 - reminds me that in my contract with my publisher it says that for all the e-books there will be a sentence both on the first page and the last one... If you liked this book, don't keep it to yourself share it with others...

      1. That is so easy to add!

        Thinking how I can apply it to my trainings or coaching. Maybe it's just adding a "If you got value out of this session, you can help me and someone else by inviting them to .."

      2. Bina, I like that sentence on the first and last page. I will be thinking of ways where I can implement it in my business.

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