Weve all been there. We know the old drill of drumming up new business — sending pitch after pitch, cold email after cold email…and waiting and waiting for that one oh-so-elusive positive reply that could land a new client in your inbox.
That strategy, however, rarely works. The fact of the matter is: selling yourself to prospects who have never heard of you simply doesnt produce enough results to justify the time investment.
Today, Im going to introduce you to a new way of raking in new business: Referral clients. Getting your existing clients to introduce you to the publishers or companies youre targeting means you stand a much higher chance of not only getting replies, but ultimately converting those contacts into new business.
Use my referral strategy to set yourself up for client overload.
1. Make the Client Want to Refer You
First and foremost, your clients have to want to refer you for this strategy to ever produce results.
Remember – every time someone makes an introduction for you, they do two things:
A. Expend their personal social capital to create the relationship.
B. Take the risk of your performance (poor or otherwise) reflecting on their person or company.
Thus, throughout your working relationship with the client, you have to build rapport to a level where they not only value you enough to invest social capital in your business development, but also trust you to perform well with the contacts they introduce you to.
That kind of rapport is built only one way: by you investing time in delivering a stellar service to your client. This means not only an excellent product, but also consistent, professional, and timely communication.
2. Do Your Research and Write a Solid Email
You cant vaguely ask your editor for a referral to just anyone in their network. You have to come to the table showing that youve done your research, and be very specific with your request.
Identify one or two publications or companies youd like to write for that you know your client has an existing connection with, and leverage that connection to get introduced to the appropriate contact at that organization.
This kind of information will usually be available online or in the publication itself. For instance, if your client has ever done a collaboration in the past with another publication in a similar/complementary field, that could be an ideal place to get started.
After youve done your research, youre ready to write the email requesting an intro. Keep it simple, short, and to the point. Be polite, but at the same time dont beat around the bush; put your request out there. Heres an email template you can use, based on whats worked for me personally in the past:
Thank you so much for your positive feedback on [recent piece]. Im pleased that youve been satisfied with my work!
I noticed that [insert description of the editor’s or publisher’s relationship to target publication]; Ive actually had a pitch that would be an excellent fit for [target publication]s audience. Would you be able to intro me to an editor in their organization?
Just press send and youre all set. If you dont hear back instantly, dont fret. The editor may have just put your email on the backburner since its not an immediate concern for their day-to-day. Just follow-up again in a week.
3. Never be Afraid to Ask for the Referral
Now that youre armed with the knowledge of how to make the request for a referral connection, you have to work up the courage to implement this process to experience the results.
Heres the deal: If you put out great work, keep your editor happy, and stay professional and polite in all communication, you probably already rank as one of your editors favorite writers. So, nine times out of ten, when you ask for a connection, the client is only too happy to take five minutes out of their day to make an introduction.
Furthermore, the absolute worst-case scenario is that they say no, at which point you havent lost anything, nor have you damaged the working relationship.
Once again, the most crucial step to this process is making up your mind to actually ask your clients to help you out, and get you the connections you need to keep succeeding. Remember that if your editor is happy with your work (which they probably are, since theyre still a client!), theyll usually be more than happy to help you. And in any case, the potential reward of a new client far outweighs the risk of a rejection.
So, get to work researching target publications, send out those emails, and start raking in those referral clients!
If you have other referral ideas, please let me know in the comments box below!
- I Get Referral Clients All The Time! Here’s How! – by Hailey Hudson
- Networking and “Subtle Promotion” on LinkedIn! By Elizabeth Armenta (WriterLiz, LLC)
- Networking Techniques That Work Fast and Pay Off Big! By David Geer
- Circumventing the Editor’s Round File By Jacquie McTaggart
- 11 Ways Editors Can Attract Good, Reliable Writers By David Geer
Jonathan Rebby John is a freelance writer and a student mechanical engineer at the University of Alabama in Huntsville. An experienced content marketing strategist and WordPress maestro, his work has been published in many of the top blogs in those fields, including Problogger, Marketo, Torque, and WP Lift. Get in touch with him through his website or connect on LinkedIn.
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