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Referral Generation - What it is and Is not

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 It is no secret that there are a multitude of ways to go about building one’s business. I have learned that building a successful business does not necessarily require using ten different marketing strategies, for example,  but instead  know how to effectively AND consistently use a few for which you are good at, you enjoy, and that get you results!  One that I have found to be of great benefit is referral generation. When I first started my coaching business, I can admit, I had a basic understanding of this process. With more research and coaching, I have learned how truly powerful referral generation can be and what it involves. “Getting a referral is a quantifiable, repeatable process” ( and generating them starts with building relationships.

Every marketing strategy definitely has its rightful place, and in today’s post, I am sharing what I have learned about what referral generation is and is not and how it differs from some of the other marketing strategies similar to it.

 So let’s take a look!

What Referral Generation is not

  1. Word of Mouth—Certainly has its benefits, but it is less systematic and organized than referral generation. With word of mouth, you have people talking about your products and services with no real way to control or strategize it. The referrals here come at random. 

  2. Affiliate Marketing—is more transnational. The person is referring in exchange for a financial reward. It tends be less relational. With referrals, the exchange is that we both agree to refer business to one another as the needs arise, and the pay-off is the business itself in which we both receive. (

  3.  “Just selling”— One major example of “just selling” can be seen at some networking events(not all of them) where people are just dropping off their business cards and focusing on selling versus building rapport. Not saying people do not ever get business this way, but this is the opposite of the referral generation process.

What it is

  1. Relationship building—Establishing referrals and referral partners is about building authentic relationships where people enjoy referring business to you and likewise, you enjoy referring business to them, all because you know, like, and trust one another. Ask family, friends, previous and current clients, and nurture your referral partner list(more about that below)

  1. Systematic—Referral generation is systematic, which not only includes establishing referrals but nurturing them. Part of being organized and systematic in referral generation includes tracking progress. For example, I keep a simple spreadsheet with name and contact information of my referral partners. I contact those on my list once a month to inform them of any recent changes to my business, ask the same about theirs, and who they know that can use my services. When you receive a client from a referral, be sure to send a thank you card to your referral partner, and the more referrals you receive from them, perhaps you want to send a gift card, or show some other form of gratitude for the business they have sent to you.  Mary Cravets, Business Development Expert and Mentor(, has an amazing marketing program, and part of it focuses on referral generation made easy. (I am not receiving any compensation for mentioning this—just wanting to share resources that have been and continue to be empowering to me).

  2. Consistency- As business owners, we understand that being consistent is valuable every step of the way. Building the level of trust and relationships that referral generation is all about, is not an overnight endeavor. Being consistent here is about having a willingness to commit to generating and nurturing your referrals and referral partners. Referral generation is about “farming” not “hunting.” Continue patiently planting the seeds and watching them flourish!

“The only limit to the height of your achievements is the reach of your dreams and your willingness to work for them" -Michelle Obama

I am still learning and growing in my business every day, but this is just a quick summary of  what I have found to be immensely helpful, and I hope the same for you!

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