“The best way to ask for a referral is with an email. It’s easy and personal, and it allows you the chance to follow up with your potential clients if they don’t respond right away.”
Personalize the email. Use the person’s name and, if possible, their title. If you can think of something in common with them, mention it — or if not, find another way to personalize your message that still feels genuine (e.g., noting what you don’t have in common).
Asking for a referral is much like asking someone to buy something from you. If you’re too wordy or unclear, the person might get confused or distracted and forget why they are talking to you in the first place. It’s best to be direct and ask for what you need in as few words as possible.
Include the person’s name: This helps ensure that your request gets seen by the right person—whether by an actual human being (if they’re available) or by an automated system (if they’re not).
While you are proofreading your email, check for spelling and grammatical errors. This is a simple but effective step to ensure your message is clear and understandable. If there are any mistakes, take the time to fix them before sending the email out into cyberspace.
If you use a template or form letter, ensure it’s relevant to your industry or profession. For example, if you’re a lawyer and want referrals from clients who have just been involved in an accident or lawsuit, don’t use language like “We’d love to add more clients.”
It’s essential to use a friendly tone in your email. When you reach out, you want the recipient to feel like they’re talking to an old friend. This is one of the most important parts of asking for referrals because if they don’t feel comfortable with you, they won’t likely refer you.
Try using their name: Asking someone for a referral while using their name will help increase your chances of receiving that referral and make it seem as though you know each other well enough that calling them by their first name would be appropriate.
When asking for a referral, it’s essential to be specific about the mutual connection. This will clarify that you are asking for a referral and help build trust with the referred person.
You might also consider sharing some information about yourself: “I really enjoyed working with you and learned a lot from seeing how you used our product in your organization” or “I’m new here at [company name], but I’ve worked at several other companies in the industry. Do any of your colleagues come to mind?”
Make sure they have enough time to respond. Don’t send a referral request during busy times or early in the morning.
If someone receives an email from you in their inbox at 10 am on a Monday, they probably won’t get back to you until at least noon that day—maybe even later if it’s been a particularly hectic start for them.
Even if they take action immediately, very few people remember things that happened 5 minutes ago (let alone 24 hours ago). It’s better if recipients take care of your request when it still feels fresh in their minds rather than having to sift through old emails later on.
We’re not saying that you should never ask for a referral. Referrals can be some of the most effective forms of marketing when done well.
But they must be approached with care and tact to ensure they work in your favor, which means asking the right way. If you want more information on how to approach referrals, check out our other blog posts