How to Use Referrals to Grow Your Client List

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If you're a translator or an interpreter, you know just how important it can be to get a client (or friend) referral that leads you to a great client. It helps you to build what is hopefully a sustainable and booming business. Once you define your ideal client, you'll want to get the word out to others about the fact that you're looking to grow your business or client list. But you will want to do this strategically without coming off as salesy, right?

Here are three ways you can leverage referrals to grow your client list starting today.

1. Give your clients an unforgettable experience.

Before even considering how to get more referrals for your business, it is key to treat your current clients well, first and foremost. As most of us work from home and have clients all over the map, we don't often get to see or meet with our clients. So, finding ways to give them the ultimate experience when they work with you is important in getting them to offer your name up as a referral to those in their own networks.

Think about this. When you refer your friends or family to a particular restaurant, shop or professional provider, you want them to be just as pleased as you were, right? You wouldn't refer them to someone who you thought would give them poor service or sell them a glitchy product. That's exactly how your customers feel, too. So, whenever you have the chance, make a point to wow your clients. Do something unexpected for them like throwing in a bonus translation of something that would serve them well. I'm not saying you should give away your work, but by adding an extra touch like this, you stand out a bit more than other folks who provide the same service as you. If this isn't your style, you could write a handwritten thank-you note and include a gift card to a coffee shop near their office. Remember, it's the little things that clients remember when it comes to why they love to work with you. So, give them a reason to keep coming back and keep referring others to you.

For more tips on how to effectively network with clients when you work from home, check out this post.

2. Never underestimate who you might meet or speak to at any given moment.

It's been said that you should always carry yourself as though you are representing your business or brand. This is even truer nowadays, as more and more people are in touch with each other through technology, too.

Your next referral could come from a current client or a friend, the person bagging your groceries at the supermarket, a bank teller or even a gym pal. So, staying "on brand" and "on message" is key to landing more referrals. How does technology play into this? While you shouldn't underestimate who you might speak to or meet in person, you must also be sure to carry yourself well online. I have had many friends, who I've not seen in over 10 years, refer business to me simply because they saw my social media post about something language-related, or they remembered I have a small translation agency because of a recent tweet they saw in their Twitter feed. Stranger things have happened!

3. Don't be afraid to request a testimonial. They work.

Testimonials can be one of the strongest marketing methods you can use. Don't let anyone tell you that no one reads testimonials anymore. Just look at the number of review on an Amazon product page, and this should convince you otherwise. And what's more? They're totally free. Reach out to past clients and ask them to give you a brief testimonial. As they write it, they will be reminded of just how much they liked working with you, which is never a bad thing.

Once you have a few testimonials under your belt, post them everywhere, post them frequently, but don't be spammy (of course!). Use them on your social media channels, in email campaigns to clients and on your website. If you're on particularly great terms with the person who gave you the testimonial, request that they share it on your LinkedIn profile or another professional site you use as well.

Take a look at your current client list. No matter how long it is, I am willing to bet that more than half of your clients came from referrals. And while this may not necessarily be the case for you, never give up on trying to get more referrals. They are invaluable and worth multiplying if you take a little bit of time to build stronger client relationships and get the word out more often about the work you do and what its like to work with you.

For more reading on this topic, check out Jesse Tomlinson's guest post, "Who's Watching?" on Judy and Dagmar Jenner's blog Translation Times.