When I was an opinionated teenager, I told my mom it was so rude for people to sign up for gift registries and tell their friends and family exactly what gifts to give them.
I mean, if someone really knows you, shouldn’t they be able to come up with a wonderful, thoughtful gift all on their own?
I didn’t like people telling me what to do (still don’t!), so why would I want to tell someone else what to do?
My mom tried to tell me some people appreciate the guidance and like the reassurance their gift will be something the recipient really does want and will enjoy.
Teenage me wasn’t buying it.
But, adult me sees the value in asking for what you want… in telling people just what that is. And, I’ve come to realize it really does help the giver, too. The gift registry makes it easy for people to give you a gift. It takes the guesswork out of the gift-giving process.
When you ask for what you want, you’re helping the people in your life receive the pleasure of giving you those things.
It’s the same with business referrals.
When you can tell friends, family, business acquaintances, clients, and people you do business with precisely the kind of referrals you’re looking for to help you grow your business, you’re more apt to get them. And, the person giving you the referral feels great for helping you.
Now, I don’t know of a registry where you can sign up for the business referrals you want (if you know of one, leave a comment below and tell me about it!). So, it’s up to us to let people know how they can help.
It’s up to us to make it easy for people to give us those writing referrals.
Here’s how you can do that…
1. Tell people what you do.
People may know you’re a writer. Maybe they even know you’re a web writer. But, do they really know what that means?
Do they know how you help your clients solve their problems and get better results?
You have to tell them!
Now, they don’t need to know the details and the theory behind how to write great-user-experience copy for product pages or emails. They don’t need to know the structure and writing method behind a great blog post.
Just give them enough details, so they can recognize someone who you can potentially help… someone who would be a good referral.
For example, if you write blog posts for landscape companies, tell people you know that you help those companies maintain the regular publication of quality content while they focus on what they do best — creating and maintaining beautiful landscapes.
It’s that easy. Simply tell them what you do and how it helps your client.
2. Tell people what to look for.
This is powerful. Because our human brains notice what we tell them to.
To illustrate this, look around the room you’re in right now. Take a minute to notice everything that’s red.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Okay, now close your eyes and say out loud all the things in the room that are green.
Most people don’t remember the things that are green — even though they were there all the time — because they were focused on seeing the things that are red.
It’s the same thing that happens when you start seeing a specific car — say, a Subaru Forester — everywhere you go once you’ve decided you want to own a Subaru Forester.
Likewise, when you teach people what to look for when it comes to the writing referrals you want, they’ll start seeing them. And, it’s only when they see them that they can send them your way.
So, what are some cues that can identify a good referral for a web writer?
Consider asking people to notice when they hear someone complaining, bragging, or planning something new.
Complaining — When someone is complaining about a problem you can help solve, that can be a good referral. For example, “Nobody seems to be reading our blog!” Or “We have such a low open rate on our e-newsletter, it’s hardly even worth it!” These kinds of statements might lead to a good referral, if you write blog posts or e-newsletters for clients. Think about the projects you help your clients with and work backwards to figure out what they might have complained about before you started working with them.
Bragging — When someone is bragging about a win — perhaps their company has won an award, or they’re telling the story about a client who had great results with their product — that can be a good referral for you, too. Could you help them get the word out about their success by writing a press release, or a blog post, or an email? How about a case study? Again, think about the projects you help your clients with and work backwards. What might they have bragged about that would have let people know they should introduce you as someone who can help tell the world about their success?
Planning Something New — If a company is planning to launch a new product, open a new location, or start trying to reach a new audience, is that something you can help with? Businesspeople like to talk about the new things they’re planning to do. And, if you’ve told the people you know this is a sign of a good referral for you, you’ve made it easier for them to bring you those writing referrals.
3. Tell people stories of the clients you’ve helped.
As a writer, you know we humans are hardwired to pay attention to stories. Use this knowledge and tell people stories to help them remember what you do and what to look for, so you can help more people like the one in the story you’re telling them.
Tell them about the latest blog post you wrote for the landscaper. Tell them what you learned when writing a case study about how your client helped their customer save thousands of dollars by hiring their accounting firm.
Do for yourself what you do for your clients… tell the stories of how you help.
Tell the stories, so people can better understand just what it is you do.
When people know and really understand what you do and how to recognize a good referral for you, you’ve made it easy for them to send you those writing referrals.
But, you do have to tell them.
You have to ask for what you want.
And, you’ll get a better result, if you make it easy.
Otherwise, it’s unlikely you’ll get the writing referrals you’re hoping for.
Practice by leaving a comment and telling me what you do and how I would recognize a good referral for you.