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How to Ask for Client Referrals

Mar 8, 2020
(updated: Dec 1, 2022)
Max 5 min read

We interviewed dozens of freelancers and learned that the biggest freelancing challenge is consistently finding new clients to work with. It’s stressful to not know if your clients are stable or not having enough work to make ends meet every month. We know it's part of the The Ebb & Flow of Freelancing Work, and we want to help. In this article we want to highlight how to ask for client referrals. If you're interested in learning about different ways of finding freelancing work, check out the blog we wrote, The Top 5 Ways to Find Freelancing Work.

Remember, You’ve Got This

Some people are really hesitant to ask for referrals or for help - but it’s important to remember that people love helping other people, especially those they like. 

Relationships and getting help make the world go round. In this article, we’ll break down the different ways to make the ask as easy as possible and with the highest likelihood of success. 

Evaluate Your Relationship

Before you ask, consider which of your clients you should ask for a referral from. Some reasons why I wouldn’t ask a client for a referral:

  • The client wants more of my time, but I don’t want to give it to them
  • My relationship with the client is rocky or they're not satisfied with my work

Make sure you’ve earned their trust, they’re excited about working with you, and you’ve been able to show results before asking for a referral. 

Be on The Lookout for Referral Opportunities

Sometimes there are ways of asking for referrals that are a natural response to a client conversation. Knowing some of these different scenarios can make it easier to know when you're missing out on an opportunity to ask, with an almost guaranteed referral.

  • Scenario One. If you’re having a conversation with your client and they say they wish they could bring you on more.
  • Scenario Two. You’ve ended a one-off project and your client is really pleased and doesn’t have any new work for you. 
  • Scenario Three. Your client laid you off due to budget, etc, and asks if there’s any way they can help support you. 

These are all scenarios that you should be aware of so if you find yourself in that situation, you know how to use it as an opportunity for a referral. There are several more referral opportunities, so start opening up your mind to the different situations where a referral ask feels natural and easy. 

Asking for a Referral 

Asking for a referral in an email is a simple and effective method for reaching out. Use a friendly tone in your email, similarly to how you’d talk to your client on a project. You don't need to be very formal, unless your relationship is always formal. Asking for a referral isn't a surprising ask, and mosts of your clients will want you to help with. 

Referral Email Templates

Hi [client name],

I hope you're doing well. [Personal anecdote (for example: I was thinking about you the other day…, I saw you had a website redesign…, etc)].

As you may know, I’ve been focusing on growing my business over the [insert amount of time]. I’m always looking for new clients to continue to expand the companies I’m able to support. I’m particularly looking to offer [insert services you’re focused on].

If anyone comes to mind, I’d love an introduction or referral for my services. I really appreciate your help and support and am grateful for our continued relationship. 

In the meantime, please let me know if there’s any way I can be of assistance personally or professionally to you. 

All the best,

[insert name]

Ask for a Testimonial Instead

If you’re not ready to ask for a referral, consider asking for a testimonial. Testimonials can be awesome ways to build your reputation, by either including the testimonial on your personal website or having them leave one on your LinkedIn.

These can be really helpful in closing new or prospective clients especially if the testimonials come from highly reputable companies. 

Get started today!

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