Low-Pressure Ways to
Respectfully Ask Your Network for Referrals – Part 5
Deploying your referral campaign requires some proactive content development and strategizing. In the previous Briefs, you prepared to engage. The next few Briefs focus on how to optimize The Asks you plan to deploy. Get ready to punch up the content of your outreach.
Boosting the Ask:
Even with no-pressure asks, requesting referrals from your support network is soliciting a favor. Before you create ways to ask for this favor, develop and record ways you can thank people. Being thoughtful and considerate is the right thing to do. Full stop. A bonus is that respecting your support network pays dividends and increases the likelihood of future support by them and others who might witness your gratitude. Crafting your appreciation before The Ask helps the genuineness come through in your outreach messaging.
No need for elaborate or expensive displays of gratitude. We all know that saying “Thank you” is the bare minimum and often is plenty. If you want to go above and beyond to make your support network really feel appreciated for any level of assistance they give, there are other easy and cost-free methods. Remember that all help (big or small; solicited or unsolicited) deserves some level of respectful recognition.
While making your gratitude apparent is important, resist the urge to overdo it and cross the line into groveling. Remember, your audience is your support network – people who have some type of relationship with you. You are asking for simple assistance, not begging for some unearned honor. Think of it like an appetizer to a meal. It should be satisfying, but is not expected to overwhelm the main dish. Proactive preparation ensures that you follow through during this critical business development process.
1. Say “Thank you” while delivering the request and repeat it when they follow-through
Adding “Thanks in advance” to a request message is very simple and fairly common. Another option is to include “I would appreciate your help with…” or a similar sentiment, such as “Thanks for your consideration”.
Of course, you will choose language that aligns with the kind of relationship you have with the recipients of the message. Closer contacts usually expect casual language while more distant contacts would benefit from more formal language. Either way, the goal is to communicate that you understand they don’t owe you anything, but you would be thankful for what they can give.
After you become aware they have complied with The Ask, be sure to reach out to thank them again. Not sure if they actually followed-through? Sometimes, it’s a good idea to assume they did and send a word of Thanks, anyway. One good way to do this is through a mass message expressing gratitude to everyone who might have helped. Those you definitely know helped should still receive separate, private notes. From this approach, you cover most of your bases, even when it is hard to know that someone took action.
2. Privately recognize their efforts
For those you know have helped, personalized gratitude can be very powerful. Even a quick note mentioning the effort it must have taken can make them feel special. For example, if you know of any inconvenience they might have experienced while complying with your ask, mention your appreciation of their sacrifice, no matter how small. Be specific. This “effortful gratitude” helps them feel appreciated and boosts the likelihood that they will assist you again in the future.
3. Privately share the impact their actions made
Knowing what effort was extended by your audience can be difficult. However, you have a direct connection to how their help impacted your business. Share this to help them understand the meaning of their actions. They may have originally helped you for a variety of reasons. Seeing their impact provides a deeper sense of satisfaction. Everyone wants to be needed and even small actions fulfill this desire.
Share feedback about how their actions impacted you, your business, or someone else they care about (ie. the person they referred). People feel good about being helpful, so knowing the impact of their help is even more gratifying. Again, be specific.
Even if the impact takes some time to become evident, follow-up to let them know. Better yet, tell them what you expect the benefit or impact to be. You don’t have to send a rigorous impact evaluation report, you are simply helping your audience understand that they matter. Ideally, there’s a short-term impact you can mention, too.
4. Publicly recognize their efforts or impact
You may know many people who prefer to contribute anonymously, but some will enjoy public recognition. A public broadcast is most often meant to recognize a group of people, but you can choose to single someone out. The magnitude of the recognition should match up to the magnitude of their contribution or impact. However, it can be fun to post an outsized announcement for even trivial help. Use whatever method feels genuine. Serious, silly, sarcastic, etc.
You can craft and publish an announcement via email, physical media, newsletter, social media, etc. Explicitly list names of people who have helped. Mention the inconvenience they endured to help you. Share the impact of their help on you, your business, or people that the helpers care about (ie. a specific group or community).
|Bonus: your public gratitude communicates several pieces of information, 1) your appreciation, 2) the number of people willing and able to offer support, and 3) how critical it is for a business owner to have a support network. That last item is very helpful for other current or aspiring solopreneurs to see. The American myth of the individual struggling in isolation to launch and grow their business is a story that needs to be replaced with the truth about our interconnectedness. Scores of ventures fail because people believe they cannot or should not ask for help. Broadcasting gratitude helps chip away at this harmful and untrue stereotype.|
5. Pay it back and pay it forward
Ideally, gratitude is not a quid-pro-quo arrangement. At that point, you are conducting a transaction, not maintaining a relationship.
Appreciative payback is more about being open in the future to helping the person that just helped you. Watching for opportunities to lend assistance, when possible. The natural give-and-take of a healthy relationship. Be their support network, when they need it. Help and be helped. You are likely already doing it, so this is just a reminder that some of your natural behavior already aligns with this option for displaying gratitude.
On the other hand, paying it forward is not as commonly practiced. Offer and provide assistance before being asked. Some examples include mentoring, sharing complimentary information in your industry, referring potential clients to other consultants you know, etc. Proactively watch for opportunities to contribute. This doesn’t have to be a surprise to the recipient – you want to be careful to offer meaningful assistance that actually benefits them. The difference is that you take on the burden of watching for ways to be supportive, when you can.
Now let’s look at some specific ways to remove any inappropriate pressure from The Ask so that it feels genuine and respectful…
Back to the overview 5 Low Pressure Ways to Respectfully Ask Your Network for Referrals