Talking about referrals is about 2 different things 1) How to ask for the referral and 2) when to ask for the referral.
How to ask for referrals: Actually, the first part of this equation should be when have you given referrals, but that is another song. Since you are not asking for you as a person, but for the growth of your business I like the words, “I’m in the process of expanding my business, do you know anyone who can help me?” People like to help and you are asking for help. That is why I asked the question when have you given referrals. Helping is a contagions gesture and the person you help may not be the one who helps you, but you can count on the help being returned. That is the way the universe works.
When to ask for referrals: When are you in the process of expanding your business? All the time. By ending your contacts with clients and associates for help in a repeated form, they will remember you. It is OK to ask business associates who you know are not in a position to help you because they may know someone who can. And then when you provide a referral without expecting one in return (random acts of kindness), you can be sure of a returned gesture. The more you help others, the more others will help you. It is called relationship building.
Referrals are closely tied to sales networking and long time ago I read a book by Bob Burg, “Endless Referrals.” Check it out. He talks about the importance of remembering names, writing thank you notes (no, an e-mail doesn’t carry the same impact) and other tips to get what he calls, ENDLESS REFERRALS.
How do you say it? What words do you use and how effective are they? Do you have any follow up? What is it?