CAREER DEVELOPMENT / JUN. 11, 2014
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How Shy Business Owners Can Get Referrals and Endorsements

If you are an introverted small business owner, you may have experienced issues with asking customers and clients for referrals or endorsements. It’s a complicated circumstance. Referrals are a major source of new business. However, many business owners are afraid to come out and ask customers for referrals and to spread the word about the business. This article will share some tips on how shy business owners can get referrals and endorsements.

The Right Timing is Vital to Getting Referrals and Endorsements

Asking for a referral at the wrong time can be disastrous. For example, it sounds like common sense, but asking a customer for a referral during a time when they think they’re receiving poor customer service will be counter-intuitive. You’ll know when the right timing happens. If a customer shares with you that he or she is pleased with the products and services—that is the perfect opportunity for you to ask for a referral. You can say, “Thank you so much for letting me know. Feel free to pass along our name if you know of anyone who can use our services.”

You need to become a very good listener. While speaking with your customer, you may find an opportunity to ask for a testimonial in addition to any referrals. For example, you can say, “We have a section in our newsletter for customer testimonies and would love to know more about your experience. Can I ask you to share your experience with our company as a testimonial?” Customer testimonials can also be shared on a page on your website or through your social media sites. Any time you deal with customer responses, whether speaking in person or through emails and online response forms, always keep an open mind. You never know when the opportunity will arise to ask for a referral or testimonial.  

Indirectly Asking for Referrals and Endorsements

So maybe the direct listening and asking approach is still not something you’re ready for. There are other ways for business owners to indirectly ask for referrals and endorsements. These steps may not yield results as quickly as the direct result might yield, but the indirect approach is still worth the effort in the long run.

  1. Ask for referrals in your email signature line. Write up a simple statement that says something like, “We value our customers. If you know of anyone who might benefit from our services, feel free to refer them to our website.” Then include your link.
  2. Ask for referrals or endorsements in your newsletters. Newsletters are an important way to disseminate information to your customers, clients and potential patrons. Provide excellent customer services and keep your newsletters upbeat and full of useful information. Always thank your customers for reading the newsletter. Have a section at the bottom to share your thanks and even offer a special coupon or discount for a referral incentive. For example, refer three friends and you’ll receive a coupon or discount.
  3. Seek referrals and endorsements on review sites. There are many review sites online like Angie's List, Google Places for Business, Yelp, Yahoo Local Listings, City Search. You can include text on your website that says “Like us on Facebook.” You may even want to hang a Like Us sign at the register or on the front door. It is also important to list your social media site icons for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ on your website and blog.         
  4. A blog is another vital marketing tool for your business. It is a way to interact online with your customers and prospects. For each blog post and in your email newsletters, you can add social sharing bars. Add This offers free and paid options for codes for various widgets of social sharing bars. The social sharing feature provides fans and followers with the option to forward and easily share your content on various social networks. At the end of the blog post, it’s important to include a “call to action”. For example, “Thank you for visiting and feel free to share the post.”
  5. Make the most of your business events. If you are hosting a workshop, event or webinar, create a feedback form that attendees can complete. Ask for their feedback on the event and your product and services if applicable. Feedback from such an event can be very enlightening for you as a business owner and often creates great customer testimonials and endorsements.

Even introverted business owners can get the referrals and endorsements that they need from their customers and clientele. If you follow the simple steps outlined in this article, you’ll soon begin to see the results you’re looking for. Remember that timing is everything. Think outside the box and utilize the indirect methods of gaining referrals and endorsements. Most of all throughout all of your contact—both direct and indirect—with your customers, always say thank you. Without your customers and clients, you won’t have much of a business.

 

Photo Credit: Leadership and Community

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