To dramatically increase referrals, it’s important to educate the people you consider personal advocates (those who know you, like you, trust you, love you, and want the best for you), and let them know what you’re up to and who your best clients are.
If you’re just starting out, it’s a letter of introduction; if you’ve been in practice several months or years, write an “update letter” on how your practice has grown or new services that you provide.
The fact is, most people who are your personal advocates will be happy to help (people LOVE to give referrals and to help a friend in business, especially when the person is a trusted friend). It makes them feel good, yet most of us somehow feel that we’re being a burden on our network when we do this. The good news is, it all depends on how tastefully it’s done.
In starting both of my private practices, I sent “warm” letters of introduction letting my friends and family know what I was doing and asking them to think of me when they saw or overheard a particular situation relating to my coaching.
Both times, I received clients right away, and both times, friends also referred people as long after the fact as 6 months to a year after receiving the letter. One referral came 3 years later and it came as a direct result of sending my warm letter of introduction. It feels really gratifying to get those phone calls from people you don’t know saying they’d like to work with you.
I sent it to everyone I knew, about 10 to 20 a week. I hand-wrote a couple of words at the top to make it more personal. (“Hi Mary! It’s been so long since we’ve seen each other. Would love to catch up over a cup of tea. I’ll call you this week. Best, Fabienne.”)
That following week, I would call the person, set up a meeting for breakfast, lunch or tea, get caught up on their life and talk to them about my new business, asking them if anyone they knew fit my ideal client profile.
The result? Word spread and I received a number of my first round of clients and referrals this way. The idea with this letter is to keep it consistently going out to people in your network. The first time around, in my nutrition business, I sent 250 introduction letters out at the same time. You can also send the letters to five or ten people per week, it’s up to you. In doing this, you actually set yourself up for getting that first client, that new client or that referral you didn’t know was waiting for you.
A Client example:
A client of mine dragged her feet with this idea at first, thinking that it was too sales-y for her personal style and that she wasn’t going to get any leads or new clients that way. After some coaxing and coaching, she started the process of sending out letters of introduction.
She was absolutely shocked at the results: new clients started coming in and her friends, former colleagues, school friends, and family were the ones referring them. She was thrilled and years later continues to update her personal advocates on what she’s up to, using her update letter.
Your Assignment: Create and send a “warm” letter of introduction as an announcement or update of your practice to contacts that you already know. This includes everyone (your family, friends and colleagues, past clients and acquaintances), EVERYONE. If you have been in practice several months or years, write an “update letter” of how your practice has grown or new services that you provide. Keep it friendly, as well as educational, but definitely NOT sales-y. Describe your Ideal Client and ask them if they know someone who might fit that profile.
You too will be shocked at how quickly you get new clients and referrals using this simple system. It takes a bit of work upfront, but you’ll be singing all the way to the bank! This will be one of your most effective client attraction tools, and best of all, it’s relatively no-cost to you!
Copyright (c) 2007 Fabienne Fredrickson