I love getting referrals. In my opinion, they are one of the highest compliments in business. When a person gives us a referral to someone in their sphere of influence, it shouldn’t be taken lightly. Not only is someone entrusting us to follow up, but they also have something even more important at stake: their reputation.

This is always in an in-demand topic from clients and readers of my books. To help address this, I’ve put together a list of 10 referral commandments to remind and inspire you of their importance and ways to increase the likelihood you’ll receive more of them.

#1. Thou shall follow up quickly on new opportunities.
#2. Thou shall thank the person who referred you with a phone call or thank-you note.
#3. Thou shall assume that the referral may have an interest, but is not a sure thing
#4. Thou shall do your homework by asking good questions to see if this person is a good fit to work with you.
#5. Thou shall be courteous and respect the time of the person who has been referred to you.
#6. Thou shall make asking for referrals from happy customers an active part of your marketing efforts
#7. Thou shall always carry a pen and business cards to capture unexpected opportunities.
#8. Thou shall focus on listening to others without distraction to identify possible referrals that would otherwise be missed.
#9. Thou shall have a great 15-second commercial to engage and clearly describe what you do and who you seek to serve.
#10. Thou shall network with a plan and seek out the best groups to maximize valuable time and energy.

So now the question becomes how do you ask for referrals?

The real challenge is less the asking and more the setting up a system to get referrals on a consistent basis.

An area I’ve shared with others is something I call the “ASK Formula for Getting More Referrals.”

A is for ASK
K is KNOW when to ask for the referral

Here’s a helpful breakdown of how you can put this to work for you:

  • When you ASK for referrals it should be done in such a way that triggers your happy customer to immediately think of 1-3 people in their contact sphere that could benefit from knowing more about you. Sounds like common sense, but so few people even do this critical first step.
  • When you are SPECIFIC about whom you’d like to be introduced or referred to, the chances that your customer thinks of someone in their immediate circle who is a great fit for your product, service, or organization increases.The mind thinks in pictures. Thus the goal is to paint a picture in their mind of someone just like them or a peer that they know who might be a good match for you to connect with. Again, the more specific you are with the request, the better the outcome.
  • The final step in the process is to KNOW when to ask for a referral. Let me give you two big clues as to when referrals could be literally sitting in front of you. First, when a customer is raving about the job you’ve done for them, quality of your product, service they’ve received, etc. When you are receiving positive comments then this is the best time to ask for referrals. They are often very receptive to introduce you to other people they know.The second scenario is when you come through in a pinch and really help a customer in a bind. At this point they know you can deliver on what you say are very likely, if you’ve followed the first two steps in the formula, to send you a referral or two.


Don’t be afraid to ask for a referral. Show up ready and prepared for every opportunity.

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