Getting referrals is like an iceberg; you're not seeing a great deal of what is actually there. In the case of an iceberg, ten percent is readily visible, while ninety percent lies beneath the surface. In the case of referrals, you're probably receiving ten percent of what you could and should be getting, while the opportunity for the other ninety percent goes unrealized.

If you are like many self-employed professionals, you believe that getting referrals is a passive event -- that people who appreciate your abilities will spontaneously recommend you to others. Although this happens occasionally, it's not the rule. In fact, few of us can rely on this to provide a major portion of our revenue. There is, however, a way to easily and effectively generate a greater number of income-producing referrals.

First, you have to realize that getting significantly more referrals requires that you take an active role. No longer can you just sit back and wait for them to serendipitously appear. You might think this is easy, but it requires that you change your way of thinking, and that is often difficult.

Second, you must not only ask for referrals, but ask for them at the most advantageous time. Too many people make the devastating mistake of asking for referrals at a time that defeats their efforts.
Third, you must develop a system. To do otherwise means you cannot accurately measure your effectiveness and, if the results are less than stellar, make the required changes.

It's a mindset
Getting referrals is no different from most aspects of your business. You need to take an active role in order to produce positive results. This is contrary to what many of us believe to be true when it comes to referrals. We believe they just happen -- that they are the residue of good work. To some degree this is true, but not to the point where you are going to receive all you want or need.

Consequently, you have to change your way of thinking. You have to understand that getting bona fide, profitable referrals takes work -- that you have to strategize and take the proper measures to achieve your goal.

Timing is important
They say the number one reason we don't make sales is because we don't ask for them. I believe the same is true for referrals. To get the number we want -- the number we deserve -- we have to consistently ask for them. Asking for referrals isn't necessarily limited to asking in person. You can request them on your invoices. You can include a reminder in your e-mail signatures when corresponding with clients and business associates. You should be asking in as many ways and as often as possible... within reason, of course.

Consistently asking for referrals is key; asking for them at the proper time is critical. Too often, we ask newly-signed clients to refer us. This, in some cases, is appropriate and leads to the desired results. In the majority of instances, however, this leads to the clients' wondering how much nerve it took us to ask for a referral before ever performing any work. In essence, we're asking new clients to recommend us without their knowing for a fact that our work is worthy of their endorsements.

Although the perfect time varies, a rule of thumb is to ask after your clients convey to you how thrilled they are with your work. Don't pounce and ask for referrals immediately, but work it into the conversation, using your clients' words. (It's also a great time to ask for written testimonials.)

You need to be able to measure your effectiveness. I keep a list of my clients and business associates in a spreadsheet. I record next to their names the dates I have asked for referrals and the results. This let's me quickly see who is referring me and where I need to step up my game. It also keeps me on track. I can't tell you how many times I think I've recently asked a particular person for a referral, only to discover that it has been several months. So systematize, measure, and react accordingly.

Now that you know how to easily and effectively get more referrals, it's up to you to take action. By doing so, you should finally see that ninety percent that had been hiding below the surface.

Author's Bio: 

As a speaker, author and coach, Peter George helps self-employed professionals achieve the success they've been striving for. His highly-acclaimed More Clients More Profits Workbook includes contributions from van Misner, Bob Burg, Susan Roane, Scott Ginsberg & others. Want to start attracting more clients right away? Claim your free copy of "101 Ways to Attract More Clients" at =>