Low-Pressure Ways to
Respectfully Ask Your Network for Referrals – Part 6
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:
You read this series of Briefs to discover low-pressure tactics that you feel comfortable applying. You also want people to respond honestly and pressure is a barrier to that goal. When people feel pressured, they are more likely to respond without thinking and commit to actions they cannot complete. It is a waste of everyone’s time when someone promises to help despite not feeling comfortable or competent to do so. This accomplishes nothing and triggers resentment. Reducing pressure in The Ask helps you feel better, but more importantly, it is a more efficient and respectful route to your goal.
Applying multiple ways to reduce the pressure in your referral request will help you feel more comfortable using these tactics and keep your relationships healthy.
1. Add opportunity qualifiers
Use qualifying phrases such as “When you have time…”, “If you know anyone …”, “If you notice…”, “When you hear about …”, etc. Adding these kinds of qualifiers communicates to your audience that you respect their time and other commitments. You don’t expect them to become a salesperson, you just want them to listen out for opportunities, when possible.
Another benefit is that you are highlighting the specific instances where your business is relevant. Your support network is not able to be on 24/7 alert for ways to help you. Narrowing down trigger words or situational cues helps them quickly identify when to pay attention and watch for an opening to help.
Others may suggest being more direct and using more active asks. That is definitely an option. The goal of this more measured and thoughtful approach is to help people who are uncomfortable applying such aggressive tactics, especially with a support network. Remember that there are many approaches to persuasion and/or sales. There is no one-size-fits-all.
Each solopreneur needs to identify what works best and is aligned with their personality and communication style. You also need to identify which audiences respond best to a particular kind of ask. Audiences unfamiliar with you may require more aggressive messaging. Right now, your business is focused on leveraging your support network to connect to opportunities. A softer touch is very helpful here.
2. Send an email, direct message, or text
Putting the ask in writing allows your audience time to privately consider your request. Less pressure to answer immediately or overpromise. Asking in-person might guarantee a quick answer, but that doesn’t mean it will be positive or that they will actually follow-through. Give your audience time to think and uncover ways that they can be helpful.
Allowing the opportunity to graciously say, “No”, increases the chances of that changing to “Yes” later, if their circumstances change. In fact, generally making it clear that “No” is a perfectly acceptable answer helps your audience feel like their choices are respected and that any “Yes” will be an enthusiastic one, rather than forced or obligatory.
3. Ask for only one call-to-action
A single task is easy to remember and easy to do. It is 10 times more likely that the person can and will follow-through. Your goal is that they actually complete the task. Make The Ask simple and clear. Too complex? They likely won’t do it. Takes too much time? They likely won’t do it. Requires specialized knowledge? They likely won’t do it. Not relevant to their normal encounters? They likely won’t do it. Too many steps? They likely won’t do it. The Asks described in the following Briefs are simple, easy to remember, and involve very little effort for your audience.
Avoid the temptation to pose multiple asks at once. You can make an additional ask a few weeks later. Do you remember the times that someone asked you for help, but you didn’t have the time, energy, resources, or opportunity to do so? That happens to others, too. Give them space. Fortunately, those who are eager and able to do more will directly ask you for additional ways they can help!
4. Be patient
Giving your audience time to thoughtfully consider your request means that it may take a little longer to see results. A proactive way to handle this is to begin your outreach a couple weeks before you want the referrals to start coming in. Create a reasonable expectation of a response rate (~5-10%) and response time (~2 weeks). Even if someone is eager to help, they may not encounter a good referral right away. Allow the process to play out without rushing it.
Most business and sales advice suggests that you be pushy, aggressive, and create a sense of urgency. As mentioned before, that is just one way of approaching business development. It works for some, but not for others. If you feel uncomfortable with that style, this gentler option will likely work better for you. You may not hear about it as often because aggressive sales techniques catch your attention and are often louder. Think about the different ways people have requested your help or business in the past. Those people used whichever technique was most comfortable for them. You can, too.
Whew! If you read the previous 5 parts of this Brief series, that was a lot of preparation! Now let’s get down to the kinds of Asks you can deploy to get referrals from your support network…
Back to the overview 5 Low Pressure Ways to Respectfully Ask Your Network for Referrals