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If there is one message I hope you get from this course, it's that people are what count, and your professional relationships will ultimately be a big part of how you grow your business. People you know can help you land other work through two mechanisms: referrals and recommendations. We'll start with recommendations. There are a few kinds available. The weakest is the Unsourced quote. This is where someone says something good about your work but doesn't give permission to include their identity.
The better kind is the Sourced quote where the person cited has confirmed that it's okay to give his or her name, position, and organization. Between these two is what we can call a semi-sourced quote. I found you get those when it's okay to use the person's name, but the company doesn't want their name used. In that case, you can substitute the company name with a descriptor such as "a large telecommunications company." Best of all though is the active reference. This is when someone agrees to not only provide a sourced quote, but also to talk with your prospective clients one on one.
In practice it's fairly rare that you'll need that service, but it's good to know that you have someone to turn to when you do. If you do get someone who is willing to do this, don't ever send a prospective client to them until you've contacted the reference to give them a heads-up. That will give you a chance to brief your reference about this prospective client, so they'll know exactly what they should talk about. You might also have recommendations on a social media site such as LinkedIn.com. If you do, ask the person who wrote it if you're allowed to copy it over to your own site.
That brings us to referrals. A referral is sort of like a recommendation except it's written by someone who connects you directly with a prospective client. The best kind is where they offer to introduce you to each other, usually by sending an email to both of you. If they're not willing to do that, it's still valuable to ask them whether they know of other people who could use your services. Then you can follow up on those referrals yourself. The easiest time to ask for a referral is when you've had a good relationship with someone.
But now for some reason it has to end. For example, if the person is getting a new job or the company decides not to use freelancers anymore. Then your contact will usually be happy to help you out. After all, they might need your help some time. If you have good relationships, recommendations and referrals will come naturally, and you'll be happy to give them out as well.
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