9 Tips for Asking for Referrals

Referrals Used To Scare Me, Too

Today I want to talk about asking for referrals. I know sometimes there is such a negative connotation about that word when you associate it with the direct marketing industry. If you feel awkward or feel like you’re being pushy about it, listen up – I have 9 tips to tell you how to ask for referrals the right way.

Let me be honest with you – I’ve been in my business for 7 years, and when I first started, referrals scared me. I didn’t want to be pushy. I didn’t know the proper way to do it. And I just plain felt awkward about it. That negative committee inside my head really started meeting, and talked me out of asking for referrals.

We Live In A Referral Society

I had to check myself for a minute. In reality, we live in a society where we’re always asking for or receiving referrals. I want to challenge you to look back on the last week. Did anyone talk about a favorite dish at a restaurant? Or did someone have a really nice pair of boots, and you asked more about them? Or did you hear about a good book that someone read, and you asked for the author?

Those are all referrals! We live in a society that is constantly giving referrals to one another. I look at the word “referral” as something that is so effective, both in life and in business. Referrals can bring you new life experiences, and they can also generate new business like nobody’s business.

The fact is, we don’t know everybody. We have our circle of friends and acquaintances. We can’t know everyone. But, the people we know can know people, and then they know people, and so on.

So here are 9 tips to take the awkwardness out of asking for a referral.

Be Direct and Specific

1. Be honest, be yourself, be direct, and be specific with the person you’re talking to. Never be scripted. People can tell a phony a mile away. The best thing you can do is be very specific when you ask for a referral.

Here’s a broad way to ask. “Is there anyone you might know that might not like their skincare right now? I’d sure appreciate it if you’d give them my name.” Or…”Do you know anyone who might be looking for a side job? Could you give them my name?”

Those are way too broad. It does a disservice to you as a professional. Be specific. “Do you know anybody who has expressed that they’ve been suffering from dry, winter skin? And they’re not happy with the products they’re using? And they’re looking for a better skincare in this winter weather? If you hear of anybody say that, I’d love if you’d send them my way.”

“Do you know anybody who is really frustrated that their time and their calendar are completely controlling them? And they can’t catch up? If you do, I’d love to talk to them, because I’m doing something I love where I have a lot of freedom. I’m controlling my calendar, not the other way around.”

Focus on VIPs

2. Focus on your VIP clients first. Those people are so much more apt to give you a referral because they already know what you do, and they love you for it. So always start with your VIP clients first.

Make It Easy

3. Make it easy for the person from whom you’re asking for a referral. Do they know how to contact you? Do they know your website? Have you supplied them with short videos? Maybe some before and after pictures? Make it easy on them so they know how to contact you if they do come across someone.

Offer Incentives

4. Offer incentives. Who doesn’t like a gift or a freebie every once in a while? Perhaps you want to offer a gift card, or a free product, a discount, maybe a punch card? Supply and offer an incentive. Make it applicable to what you do, and make it reasonable.


5. I love this one the most. Reciprocate. Be kind to them back. Become their customer possibly. I love doing this. When I’m talking to someone, I like to really get to know them. Not just on a surface level. As time goes on, when I come across an article or I’ve watched a video, I send it their way because it reminded me of them. And I don’t ever ask for anything in return. So just be kind. Don’t make it just about you. It’s not only what they can give you, but also what you can give them.

Use Social Media

6. Use LinkedIn. It’s a professional platform with professional people. Use it to network. You must update your profile, and optimize it so it’s up to date and looks good. Then I make appointments with people on LinkedIn. I love it! It’s such a great tool.

7. Ask the person to follow you on social media. Like your Facebook page. Follow you on Instagram or Twitter. Whatever social boards you’re on, ask for a follow. Then you reciprocate.

Send a Handwritten Note

8. If they become a referral for you, make sure you don’t just send them a text or a voicemail. Send them a written thank you note. Part of me thinks that is going by the wayside, but it’s such a wonderful gesture of appreciation to actually see a written note from the person. I appreciate you supporting my business. It’s very simple.

Give An Out

9. Give that person an out. Tell them I’d love their referral, but I’d never want to jeopardize our friendship. If your answer is no, I understand and it won’t have a bearing on our friendship at all. I just appreciate you listening. Boom. You’ve given them an out and it doesn’t feel awkward. And you’ve stayed true to yourself.

Pay It Forward!

So here’s a question for you – do you have any tips for me? I’m a sponge, and I love learning from others, so please share any tips with me too!

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And as always, please pay it forward – if you know anyone trying to grow their direct marketing business, please share this with them. I’ve been very successful in this industry, and I love igniting a fire and passion in others!



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