As much as people love to give referrals, many professionals assume that simply asking their existing clients and other contacts to spread the word about their service is enough to get their referral development project off the ground. The problem with this method is that your most useful contacts probably have so much on their plate that they are likely to forget that you mentioned something about referrals almost immediately if you simply ask them in passing. This is why it is so important to take the time to really lay down a solid foundation for your referral engine with a specific, concrete conversation with your on the topic of referrals.
As important as this conversation is to the process of supercharging your referral development strategy, you can have this discussion in just about any setting. For some of your top contacts, you might consider inviting them out for a lunch or drink so that you are sure to have their undivided attention while you discuss the topic of referrals. In other cases, asking for a couple of minutes of a clients time after an unrelated meeting may be all that is necessary. In either case be sure that the key topic of the conversation is how they can help you build your business by giving qualified referrals to contacts who made be able to use your services.
These meetings are also ideal opportunities for laying down the framework for education your network how to identify opportunities for referrals and the best way to recommend these potential clients to your company. In terms of identifying referral opportunities, you should explain to your contacts exactly what to look for when they are dealing with their own friends and colleagues for chances to make a referral. Once they think that they have spotted someone who could use your services, be sure that they know how to make a meaningful referral to your company and remind them to pass on the contact to you or your office so that you can strike while the iron is still hot.