But to our surprise, freelancers don't actively optimize this channel. The general feeling is "I can't control this, if I get a client through referral, that's great, but I can't proactively get more clients through referral".
But that's absolutely not true! Besides the quality of your work, the quality of your network plays a big role in the amount of direct referrals you get.
The quality of your network plays a big role in the amount of direct referrals you get
This step-by-step guide will show you how you can start to get more referrals today.
Get an overview of your network
It's the first step. In order to improve something, you need to be able to measure it.
Add all your clients on Linkedin. This will be useful later, when you want to find out if you can get introduced to someone or if a new prospect already knows someone in your network. Most Linkedin users keep their profile data up to date, which means that you can instantly find out who lives where, and so on.
Enrich your contact data
Through using Clearbit or Covve, you can automatically find out more information about your contacts than their emails. A few interesting data points are information about their company, their social media accounts, their colleagues email addresses, ...
At Nat.app, we let our users sync their gmail account and our algorithm will automatically find out who are the people you're in touch with and who are the people you're losing touch with. This is a very powerful way to get a qualitative overview of your network. You might have 2000 contacts, but are only in touch with 122...
You might have 2000 contacts, but are only in touch with 122...
Remember to reach out
The struggle to stay in touch is the reason personal CRMs were invented. While they all have different designs, the features are the same: a contact book with the ability to set reminders to reach out.
There are many such tools out there, and we've even met people who use Airtable for this purpose!
Automatically find out who you're losing touch with
The main downside of those contact databases is that they require a lot of time. You need to scroll through your contacts and set reminders for each one. Nat.app has a built-in AI that does the work for you: figuring out who you're losing touch with based on email data.
Add value to your network
Now that you know who you need to reach out to, the real real human work begins.
Because humans have never been made to remember large amounts of data, it is a good idea to write down notes about your contacts somewhere. Whether it's in your contact book, Google Doc or Evernote folder, there are many valid ways to enhance your memory.
This has the benefit that when the time comes to write a follow-up email, you'll have some content to read through and find out the best way to reach out.
Become a connector. When people complain about something to you, start thinking: "Do I know someone who could solve this problem?". You can add tremendous value by simply connecting people you know. Email intros are the most popular way.
Besides following up individually, there are many creative ways to stay in touch and build connections with your network. Here are a few:
Write a newsletter
Some of our users write monthly newsletters to their most important contacts in which they share a personal update, tell a story, or whatever is of interest to their network. Don't forget that we live in the age of Instagram. It's totally ok to share your life, people are curious by nature! And they can always unsubscribe.
Whether it's Twitter or Instagram, why not invite your clients to follow you so that they can learn more about what you do?
This became trendy in 2019. Sending out a postcard to a few clients every month is a very original and unique way to share an update, and you're 100% certain that they will read it.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org!