How to Gain Referrals That Can Sell Your Brand
Building a strong network often leads to referrals, which are by far the best way to grow your business, extent your personal brand, and shape your reputation. Personal referrals come from providing great service and being someone people can count on.
Build your brand ambassadors
Brand ambassadors are your fans — the people willing to spread the word about your personal character and/or your business. They are your cheerleaders. Your brand ambassadors build your credibility and support your trustworthiness, which solidifies your expertise.
Some people send e-mails to friends anytime they need to hire someone. Before searching online, they reach out to each other because they trust a friend’s opinion more than an online ad.
Don’t be passive about building your reputation through brand ambassadors. When you find out you have fans, ask them to help build your business. One way they can help is by providing testimonials — stories that focus on your character, skills, and talents. Testimonials build your credibility and highlight your accomplishments. When someone is looking to do business with you, a testimonial shows that you are trusted.
Ideally, you want to gather testimonials that drive home the following points:
Working with you is a great experience.
You provide excellent service.
You treat people with respect.
You are a pleasure to work with and are not difficult or demanding.
Your work (product or service) is exceptional.
If you have zero testimonials at this point, consider writing a testimonial for a colleague and asking that person to do the same for you. If you know that someone thinks highly of you, ask for a written recommendation; send that person a short list of your accomplishments and let her know how you plan to use the recommendation.
Provide reciprocal action
What goes around, comes around, so get in the habit of referring and endorsing other people. This is the spirit of networking: You give to your network in order to receive.
LinkedIn has a great feature that allows you to provide a recommendation to someone in your network. When you have a positive experience with someone, send him an unsolicited recommendation. Chances are he’ll appreciate it so much, he may do the same for you.
Give to the people in your network, and when the time comes to ask something of them, you won’t be embarrassed to ask for their help.