8 Real Life Reasons Why You Do Not Get Any Referrals

Posted on: January 12th, 2012

Referrals are the lifeblood of every business. It’s a fact. There is no better business than the one you didn’t have to chase and invest any time and energy on winning. Having said that, getting a referral is probably one of the hardest things to do when running your own company.

I hear a lot of freelancers complaining that they do not get any referrals. And, I can understand why. Over the years I had struggled myself to be recommended by my clients. I would read everything I could get my hands on about winning new work through referrals and tried the advice there. Nothing worked. Eventually I realized that the problem was somewhere else, changed my ways and referrals started rolling in. Because, you see, in order to get a referral you have to do a bit more than just provide a great service.

8 Real Life Reasons Why You Do Not Get Any Referrals

1. You don’t have a story

People need to sympathise with you in order to refer you. If, to them, you are only a guy on the other side of an email or a phone, working on their new brochure, they will never like you. You don’t have to be friends with your clients but you need to have a story they will know, remember and identify you with.

Your story is simply the reason you do what you do. It’s what you tell them when they ask you why you are a freelance writer, SEO consultant or whatever else. If your story is compelling enough, it will add value to you. And, this is exactly what’s worth telling the others about.

2. You don’t practice communicating

The art of communicating is pretty much dying, that’s the problem of today. We think that 140 characters is enough to express everything. In reality, communication is more than just a tweet an hour and unless you learn how to talk to your clients, not only about projects, you will find it hard to get referrals.

3. It’s hard to identify with your brand

Most freelancers do not pay much attention to their brand, it’s a sad state of affairs. Their website says one thing, their email signature another and there is a different address on their invoice. In reality, all those things build an image of you in the client’s eyes. If the client has trouble identifying you with your brand, she will have trouble passing that to others.

4. You do not believe in yourself

It’s hard to recommend someone who doesn’t have faith in herself. If your client has to convince you that your work is good, they will never tell anyone about you. Full stop.

5. You only copy others

You need to stand out in the marketplace to get referrals. If all you are is the same as your competition, then why would someone recommend you to others? Do as much as you can to stand out from the crowd, even if you have to leave your comfort zone.

6. You are afraid to leave your comfort zone

This pretty much ties in with the previous tip. If you are afraid to try new things, the risk is that you will always be the same as everyone around you. And, why on Earth would I want to refer you to someone I know, if they can go to that guy who is unique?

7. You are desperate for business

Charging very low prices, always saying yes, even to ridiculous client demands are signs of desperation (or amateurism but we won’t go there in this post). Sure, your clients might love it, they can use you for a very low fee but there is no chance they will recommend you to others. At least not without mentioning how easy it is to squeeze a lot for nothing from you.

8. You are in it for the wrong reasons

Lastly, you might be in business for the wrong reasons. Clients can see through you easily and if they feel that all you are interested in is the money, without sincerely wanting to help them, there is no chance they will pass your phone number to others.

Getting a referral is probably one of the most rewarding things that can happen to a person. However, it is worth remembering that a referral is a combination of more than just a good service. It is you as a person that earns it, not only the quality of your work.

Pawel works as a content writer for the leading serviced apartments provider in UK.


24 Responses to “8 Real Life Reasons Why You Do Not Get Any Referrals”

  1. Pawel
    January 12th, 2012

    Hi Carole, many thanks for posting this. I hope those tips will work for your readers just like they worked for me in the past.

  2. Carole
    January 12th, 2012

    Yes – this looks like a great list. I have an extra reason why people may not get referrals: they don’t ask for them.

  3. Oliver Lawrence
    February 13th, 2012

    Referrals come not only from customers but from colleagues. In my industry (translation), it pays to get your face/brand known among your peer group and establish a good reputation, so that if a colleague has to turn down a job (because they are too busy or don’t like the specialism) then they have you in mind to refer to the client on to. You scratch my back…

  4. Carole Seawert
    February 13th, 2012

    Yes, indeed. That happens a lot with my copywriting business. So I make a point of having a good network of trusty writers I can call on – and vice versa when they are too busy or the project isn’t their kind of thing.

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