How to get great (and relevant) referrals

One of my favorite ways to get more leads is with referrals. Referral marketing can be like having a personal street team of people hyping up you, your services, and the outcomes you help with.

But the way most of us approach referrals is a bit more… ad-hoc. Inadvertent. Accidental.

Take this example:

  • Your friend (Mark) has a friend (Tim). Tim has a problem (e.g., Timโ€™s website keeps catching on fire)
  • Mark knows that we do… something… related to websites? Computers, maybe?
  • Mark gives a referral to Tim (โ€œYouโ€™ve gotta got in touch with my buddy. They can help!โ€)

And then Tim shows up with a problem looking for help. But Timโ€™s problem isnโ€™t a problem that you can help with. So everyone ends up a bit disappointed:

  • Youโ€™re disappointed because the referral wasnโ€™t a good fit
  • Your friend is disappointed because they steered you and their friend in the wrong direction
  • Tim is disappointed because his website is still on fire (and not in a good way)

๐Ÿ˜ž ๐Ÿ˜ž ๐Ÿ˜ž

The issue here is that most of the referrals sloshing around out there are accidental referrals. The person giving the referral has a general idea that you might be able to help, so they send folks who may or may not be a fit your way.

What to do? The trick is to get intentional with your referral marketing. Get specific.

Paint a picture of who your ideal referral is. Do you want all possible people? Or do you want a small, specific slice of everyone? (Hint: you want a small, specific piece that resembles your best clients.)

You can improve your referral marketing by defining:

  • Who an ideal referral is for your business (e.g., merchants on Shopify who sell dog safety accessories)
  • The outcome or problem you help with (e.g., your search engine rankings are slowly dropping and you want to get more traffic from Google)
  • How a referral can get in touch with you (e.g., visit this page that talks about how we help and who help and then fill out the contact form to get in touch)

By taking these simple actions, youโ€™re making it a whole lot easier to get high-quality, intentional referrals.

In my video course Referral Systems, youโ€™ll learn more about how to attract intentional referrals to your business. Whatโ€™s an intentional referral? Itโ€™s someone who:

  • Has a problem you specialize in solving
  • Works in the industry you prefer to work with
  • Learns about you (and how you can help) through someone in your network

In Referral Systems, youโ€™ll learn what to do and say in person and online to get high-quality, intentional referrals. Youโ€™ll learn about thirteen different referral systems that you can use to get more leads โ€” not just the same advice on โ€œtalk to your past clients,โ€ but thirteen different systems, including one I learned when it was used on me (to great success!)

Plus, youโ€™ll get my template for setting up a /referral/ page on your website that says who an ideal referral is, the outcomes you help with, and how a referral can get in touch.

You can learn more about Referral Systems right here:



I write a high-quality, daily newsletter about marketing, growth, and lead generation for indie consultants, freelancers, and service professionals.

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