The Write Harle has been steadily growing over the past two years. YAY! But, this is due to one thing (other than hard work and discipline) and one thing only…REFERRALS! There have been so many business lessons along the way these past two years, and I’m sure there will be WAY more to come, but my biggest lesson has been the power of networking and referrals.
For the first six months of my business, I flew mostly by the seat of my pants. I reached out to old contacts in the hopes that they would need a copywriter. Not a great plan, and definitely wasn’t sustainable for any real business growth, but is worked for a bit. So, in April of 2012, I started networking. The very first networking event I went to, I was so scared and nervous. Fortunately, the people were very nice and seemed interested to know what it is I did. More importantly, I found that I enjoyed getting to know who these people were and what their stories were. From there, people started to send me requests for writing and editing work. And it just grew from there.
I’m not going to go into the stats that Word of Mouth marketing and Referral Marketing has on your company – these are easy to find online. Rather, here’s what the Power of Word of Mouth has shown me:
1. Listening is your best asset
People like to talk and be heard. Listen to what their concerns, stories, headaches, etc. are. You never know how much this will mean to them and it increases your ability to relate to them, building a relationship.
2. Developing consistency in work and process so that all clients and referrals have a similar experience
Even in a customizable business, such as writing, there must be processes in place. If people are showing trust in you by introducing you to a friend or colleague who needs help, than you must show them the same positive experience that the individual referring had.
3. Thank You goes a long way
I learned at a very young age that a thank you will have a huge impact on someone’s view of you. If you receive a referral say THANK YOU. They didn’t have to refer to you and they took time out of their day to make the introduction. Think of the last time that you were thanked for something and how it made you feel. This is the feeling that will encourage people to keep referring to you and help build your business.
4. Customer service
This is top priority in every interaction that you have. I find that I often have people requesting projects of me that is not my niche area. Instead of trying to figure my way through it and providing an inferior product, I will simply refer them to other writers or companies who would be better suited to them for their specific need. This alone makes the customer happy and appreciative that I took the time to help them connect with someone specific to their needs.
5. Follow up
If someone sends a referral to you, follow up with the referral! Simple, but doesn’t always happen. If you do not take the time to follow up with the referral (and then let the individual who referred you know the outcome), than you will find that referrals will stop coming your way…which is sad.
Even if you are a solopreneur, you alone are not building your business. Yes, you are putting in the hard work, being diligent in growing your business, going out and attracting the business to you, but there is one factor that is key to your growth.
Your word of mouth is building your business and that can mean hundreds of people are helping your growth. I know that hundreds have helped me and I could not be more grateful to each and every one of them!