Track your referral pipeline.

For most freelancers, referrals are an important source of new business development. But most of them don’t invest time or energy into nurturing referral pipelines. Why ra why?

Referrals mukkiyam (referrals are important): By keeping track of your pipeline, you’ll know who is referring, what kind of referrals are you getting, how much money are you making from whose reference etc., you can actively encourage referrals.

Right kind of referrals romba mukkiyam: Only when you track referrals, you can understand what kind works best for you. For example, if you’re a travel writer, but a referrer keeps bringing in prospects in the manufacturing industry, you can buy your referrer a cup of coffee and explain what kind of clients you’re seeking.

Quality of referrals are also important: I’ve noticed that when an existing client refers me to someone close to them, it converts way faster than when a stranger refers me to a stranger (say on Twitter). When you actively track your business development pipeline, you will be able to identify high-quality referrals and engage them better.

Number of referrals is critical too: If you need 10 new clients every month, how many clients should you be prospecting? When you’ve got this worked out, you’ll start feeling better about saying no to a client, a client saying no to your prices, and so on.

Lastly, thanking your referrals is joyful: At emdash, around Christmas or New Year every year, we send out a gift to every single person who’s referred us. Nothing big — a notebook once, a water bottle the next time etc. We do this irrespective of whether the referral converted or not; the only thing that matters is that this person thought we were good enough to refer. This is a relationship that shows trust and therefore is important to nurture.

The long and short of it is that referrals are the biggest contributor to your business growth. Track it. Analyse it. Work it.