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Back in the day, word of mouth could either make or break your small business. Nowadays, it can be easy to think that all you need is a decent marketing budget and some know-how on social media, email marketing, and networking. However, word of mouth still holds power, and a good client referral can make all the difference.

As a broker, your expertise lies in insurance, not in sales and maybe not even in communicating in a persuasive manner. Asking for, let alone receiving, a good client referral can be a loaded and nerve-wracking affair. To make this process easier, we’ve come up with some tips you can take on board the next time you’re asking a loyal client for a referral.

Timing is everything

Do ask your clients for a referral once they’ve been with you for a while. Every relationship needs time to grow and your client needs to feel comfortable referring you to a fellow business owner or associate. If you ask too quickly you’ll put your client in a tricky and uncomfortable spot.

Research your wider network

Thanks to tools like LinkedIn, this is a rather easy one. Have a look at your extended network to see who your clients know and who they could potentially refer you to. Don’t just rely on them to come up with potential new business; do the legwork for them and it’ll be much more likely that they’ll carry out the last step and introduce you.

Ask for an introduction

If you do come across someone who looks interesting and who your client knows, don’t be afraid of asking for an introduction. Likewise, having an email, LinkedIn message or even a call introducing you is far better than calling up the new prospect and name-dropping your client.

Pass it on

This is twofold. Firstly, if you ever experience a great service from another business, make sure you recommend them. Secondly, if a referral from a client does end up in new business, make sure you say thanks to your client. A thank you note, a meal or a small gift can go a long way in the eyes of your client.

Getting referrals can be a great long-term strategy. It does take time to strengthen client relationships to a point where you’ll feel comfortable enough asking for a referral. When you do get to that point, however, it can open doors to the new business you’ve always dreamed of.