It's no secret: I'm a huge fan of handwritten thank you notes.
Writing a thank you note is the perfect way to start your day. It's fun. It's fast. It doesn't require a screen (thank goodness!) and it gets you in that wonderful state of gratitude. (And we all know how awesome gratitude is, right?)
I've professed my love for daily thank-you notes many times and I've even created a handy thank you note script for easy reference for others to use (I also use it myself!) if they feel a little stuck.
I believe the more thank you notes there are floating around in the universe, the better. Do you agree?
When it comes to business, one thank you note opportunity that I think should absolutely never be overlooked is thanking for referrals.
All it takes is a few champions of your product or service, and you'll have clients and customers for lifetime.
Here are three simple tips to be sure the mavens who are sending business your way keep wanting to refer top quality clients to you ... over and over again.
1. Reach out in a timely manner.
As soon as possible, be in touch and thank the rockstar who is singing your praises.
My preference is to be in touch over email first (literally the minute after you are contacted by a potential client), and then send a handwritten thank you note to follow-up.
Remember: name who contacted you—don't make it a mystery. Acknowledge your champion's efforts and thank them for thinking of you.
The best practice is to be in touch even if your potential business isn't solidified ... no matter what a referral was made to you and it needs to be recognized (even if it doesn't result in a business transaction).
2. Send a gift.
Some people send a gift for referrals that result in business. Gifts can be and include credit towards your client's next purchase, or something more tangible.
Gifts don't have to be elaborate or expensive. Perhaps you could send a $20 gift card to their favorite lunch spot or send a pound of locally roasted coffee.
I was delighted to receive the mugs pictured above from my friend Cara Rufenacht as a referral present this year. They were made by her husband, Joe. She included a very sweet thank you note. It was so thoughtful of Cara and I was very excited when the box showed up at my doorstep.
Do you think I will continue to send more business her way? You better believe it.
And just to clarify ... I don't refer to Cara solely because she sent me a gift. (That's just a bonus!) The real reason I refer to Cara is that she does excellent work and I know that when I send people her way they will receive a great value and a high quality product in return.
3. Be creative with your gratitude.
A great way to say thank you is by using social media. A simple shout out and mention on Twitter or Facebook can go a long way. It could be something along the lines of ...
Wow. @emilylevenson really knows how to make meaningful connections. I'm so glad she is in my corner!
Or maybe ...
The amazing @carrienardini is a networking superstar. I'm grateful for the support she has shown me (and my business!) over the years.
Now if you are saying to yourself:
"Wow this is great, Kate. But unfortunately I don't have anyone to thank because I haven't received any referrals lately."
My response is simple. Go court the champions that you know are connected to your ideal clients and customers and tell them about what you have to offer. Make it super easy for them to refer business to you. (Provide them with cards, your website, stay in touch with them on Twitter, give them a sample or free trial of your product, stop by and say hello ... do whatever it takes to remind them that you exist.)
I'll cover some more details about how to ask for referrals in my next blog post so stay tuned ...
It's true. Thanking for referrals takes time, effort, and money. But it's so, so worth it and one of the best investments you can make in your business. And arguably, it's the most effective and consistent marketing that exists.
So what do you do when a friend/client/colleague sends business your way? Share your tips and ideas in the comment boxes below.
You can also tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter.
My favorite way to say thank you for a referral is _________________. (Tweet this.)