Once you’ve been freelancing for a while, a beautiful thing starts to happen. You start to get referrals.
Clients who like your work share your name and contact information with other people in their industry.
Other writers you know get busy and send things your way that they don’t have time to take on.
This kind of referral network happens naturally as a result of:
- Doing good work for your clients
- Maintaining and nurturing relationships
But you can also grow your referral network in a more systematic, deliberate way. When you do, it will lead to more referral work coming your way sooner. It can also lead to more targeted referrals from higher-quality clients.
Some of the best advice I’ve received about building a network comes from three sources:
- Michael Katz — an email newsletter writer and a natural networker,
- Russ Henneberry — an SEO expert and also a natural networker,
- and Ilise Benun — a talented marketer and, no surprise, a natural networker.
Michael Katz is one of the best when it comes to nurturing his network. He has a system in place for reaching out to people in his network, so he’s always top of mind.
The great thing about Michael’s system — and the advice I want to share with you here — is that it works better (and is more fun) when you make it all about taking an active interest in people.
Michael doesn’t reach out to people and say, “Hi, I just wanted to remind you, I write email newsletters, and I have space for a new client. Do you know anyone who’s interested?”
Instead he reaches out and says something like, “Hi, I was thinking about you the other day, and wondered what you are up to. I’d love to hear what’s going on in your life.”
So, from Michael Katz: Maintain regular connection with the people in your network. Keep it friendly and low pressure.
Russ Henneberry emphasizes the need to make sure people know what you do. If someone knows you’re a web writer, but doesn’t know what kinds of projects you work on or what kinds of clients you work with, they’re not going to know how to refer you. So they either won’t send referrals your way or they’ll send referrals your way that aren’t a good fit.
When Russ adds someone to his referral network, he starts by having a phone call with them to ask them a lot of questions about what they do. And then he lets them know exactly what he does.
Russ also underscores the importance of giving out referrals if you want to receive referrals.
So, from Russ: Be very clear about you do and be generous about sending work to other people.
Ilise Benun is a wealth of knowledge on networking, referrals, and marketing in general.
Listening to her at one of AWAI’s Bootcamps, I was struck when she talked about prioritizing courage over confidence. Ilise was talking about marketing in general, but this advice is gold when it comes to building your referral network.
Walking up to someone you don’t know and striking up a conversation can be hard. A lot of writers I know say they’re just not confident about what they’ll say or how the conversation will go.
Ilise would tell them to not worry so much about confidence. Instead, she would recommend they gather their courage and do it anyway.
Do something often enough, and eventually you’ll gain confidence.
So from Ilise: Accept that you’re nervous and unsure of yourself (if that’s the case) and then take action anyway!
Good high-quality referrals are a wonderful way to land clients, and these three tips from top experts can bring a steady stream of referrals your way.
New on the Site
Do you have limits and boundaries set to protect your productivity, creativity, and well-being? Allowing yourself time to rest is essential to your health and your business. In her latest Reality Blog, Suzanna Fitzgerald explores her own struggles with boundaries and limits and what she’s found that works for her.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. We seldom see the blood, sweat, and tears successful people expend to get where they are. John Torre shares some of the inspiration he’s found from Tai Lopez and what the self-made millionaire learned on his way to success…
Consistent marketing is easier when you have a list of prospects. Rebekah Mays reveals a smart system for building a list of high-quality prospects for your web writing business.
Mark Your Calendar
March 18: When it comes to motivation, there are two kinds — the big-picture kind and the day-to-day kind. Big-picture motivation is easy to understand and tap into. When we’re experiencing this kind of motivation, it’s easy to put in the hours until we’ve spent the motivation — in fact, it would be hard not to. Day-to-day motivation is the kind that comes after… the kind that keeps you plugging along even when you’d rather be doing other things. In this Monthly Member Update, I’ll share some of the best ways to generate and maintain your daily motivation. I hope you’ll join us!
Around the Web
Looking for a little content marketing inspiration? SmartBlogger has got you covered with seven examples of well-executed content marketing strategies.
If you struggle with confidence, don’t beat yourself up. That’s a normal part of life. But do take a look at these nine confidence boosters that are accessible to just about anybody.
One of the best things a company can do for its long-term health and viability is to focus on providing a purposeful customer experience… and here you’ll find a roadmap for doing that.
Product innovation plays a key role in any company’s ongoing success. Check out this discussion on product innovation, and then think about how you might apply it to your writing services.
That’s all for now. Make it a great week!